Remember pep rallies from high school? In my junior year, our basketball team made it to the final four. We had a pep rally when sectionals started, when regionals began and when we sent our heroes off to the state tourney (if you are wondering, we took it on the chin in the semifinal).
The events of the rallies were all the same. The cheerleaders would lead us in some cheers, the band would play the school fight song, and coach would give an inspirational speech of some sort. All of this, the cheers, the music and coach’s speech would cause most everyone to leave the gym more hyped than when they entered. The school spirit usually remained at a peak through that night’s game. If the team won, the excitement would increase a bit before it waned away, but when the team lost, enthusiasm crashed.
With all that said, let me swing over to a conversation I had with a couple of friends a few weeks ago. I will call them Bob and Sue. Both claim to be Christians and, for the record, neither Bob nor Sue attend my church, but I have known both for many years. Bob is one of those guys that if he did not show up in church people would wonder if he was in the hospital; he is always there. Sue, on the other hand, was a regular church attendee but has not gone in about a year. The conversation started with Bob talking about how good church was Sunday.
Bob: “Church was good this week. I really got a lot out of it!”
Me: “Praise the Lord. What happened?”
Bob: “Actually nothing out of the ordinary. The praise and worship team sang, the band seemed more upbeat this week, and Pastor’s sermon left me feeling inspired!”
Me: “How so? What did he preach about?”
Please take note here; this conversation is taking place on Monday afternoon. We are only one day removed from the church service Bob is describing.
Bob: “I think he was in the Ephesians. I don’t remember what it was about exactly, but I do know I felt so much better when I left.”
At this point is was when memories of my high school pep rally started popping into my brain. The singers took the place of the cheerleaders, the trombones and tubas of the marching band replaced by guitars and keyboards, and the Pastor took coaches position in delivering an enthusiastic speech.
Sue spoke up, “That’s exactly why I don’t go the church anymore. My life was falling apart. My husband left me, my brother died, and mom was diagnosed with cancer all within a month, and all I got out of church was a bunch of singing and the preacher telling me God loves me. I can listen to music on the radio in my car; and if God loves me so much, why didn’t he give that preacher something to say that could help me? Knowing God loves me is one thing, but when you love someone you should help them, and I did not get that at church. I did not want to walk out feeling good about things; I wanted my life to change.”
All of this, my high school pep rallies, Bob, Sue; bring me to a question – what does God want people to get out of church? From the conversation above it appears Bob was satisfied with leaving feeling better than he walked in while Sue was looking for something much substantial. People expect different things; but what does God expect? Ephesians 4:11-12 tells us God supplies Christian leaders, “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
Perfecting and edifying imply growth. If we apply the old saying “practice makes perfect” to that verse, we could conclude that the church and especially its ministers, should help people practice Christianity.
Edify, means to build up, which is entirely different from making one feel better. To edify, we must teach and train. Teaching is learning, and training is when you take what someone has learned and help them put it into practical use. For example, someone may be taught the fundamentals of carpentry, how to measure, how to saw a board, how to hammer a nail. Training is now taking what they have learned, the fundamental skills, and showing them how to use those skills to build a chair. A church should teach the fundamentals of the Christian life then train people on how to put it to practical use.
There is more, much more, but I only have space to look at one. God does want to change lives. He tells Timothy he wants his minister to “strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers” (2 Timothy 2:14). Subverting is to overthrow. God wants to be the King of your life. God desires that you give up control of your life and give Him the reigns; as Romans 12: puts it, “a living sacrifice.” Words that will overthrow the heart and cause real change in a person’s life will almost always include some stomping of toes (2 Samuel 12:1-13).
Did you stay home this Sunday; did you go to church, or did you attend a pep rally?
Preacher Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.preacherjohnson.com. E-book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TUJTV2A If you email, inform me where you have seen Preacher’s Point. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.