Interesting story of a cynic’s visit to Joel Osteen’s church

Here is the link.

When people are hurting, they are not looking for pure doctrine. They are looking for a church where hope is alive. A place where people believe that God intervenes in human history, the now. A place where God is for me and not against me. A place of mercy and not just duty. Church as normal doesn’t do this very well.

I don’t buy into the Word of Faith theology of Osteen and company. I believe it is a weed that needs to be pulled from the garden. I believe it ultimately is not hopeful but brings despair. But I think it’s a challenge to church as usual – repeat the creed, announce a few meetings no one wants to go to, say some written prayers, listen to music you would never listen to on your own, fit it all into less than an hour and be on your way. And if you think that is an overstatement, you haven’t been to what is mostly available out there. It’s like “nothing very much is going to happen today so let’s get it done.” It might sound cruel, but this is, in fact, how it is in large measure.

The local church has to be careful that it not always “jacking up” a service for a crescendo effect. That gets tiresome and boring after a while. And when a church tries to do it, it can lead to some strange places. But neither should it retreat into the worship by the numbers routine that passes as acceptable in most churches. There’s a “both/and” here, not an “either/or”.

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