Modernized Christianity? Yes Please.
I walked into church this morning, more accurately, I dragged myself into church this morning, still nursing my morning coffee that I hadn’t hadn’t yet had the time to drink. This has been one crazy week in my house and I am emotionally, mentally, and physically drained. So after I ushered the herd of kids I had with me to their seats, I slid into the very last row of the highest level of the balcony.
The music was already pumping, not exactly the way of the churches I grew up in, but in the beautiful way of pure worship. Not condemning the style of music I grew up with, I still appreciate the occasional choir music, but it is definitely different here.
I have heard and seen a lot of negativity surrounding the idea of the modernized American church, and I agree with some of the criticism. I have heard it preached how we don’t need the fancy lighting, videos, and coffee bar to feel Jesus. And I completely agree with that sentiment. But this morning, it dawned on me, modernized church has gotten a bad rap for things that can be and are good in many ways. The lights, the music, the coffee while worshiping was just what my heart needed today. Today, I was doing my best just to get there. And when I did finally arrive, because the lighting was conducive for worship, the song had lyrics applicable to my life, and I was able to just relax and sip my wakeup caffeine, it was easy to just close my eyes and focus on God. My soul was refreshed. I could stand in the presence of God and just be. No pretenses, no pressure to pretend I have my life together, and no expectations of my “worship” performance. I was able to just stand, take a deep breath and soak in the presence of God.
Did I feel refreshed because of the perfection of the production? Absolutely not. That was from God. Would I have been able to have the same experience without any of it? Of course. But would I have pressed through the mental exhaustion and distractions otherwise? I’m human, so probably not.
Jesus says to go into the world and preach the gospel. In order to be effective to reach people, we have to be willing to meet them where they are. How do we do this? By staying modern and relevant. If we were still exclusively singing songs written in the 1800’s, sitting on hard, backless benches with no heat, and no sound system how can we reach people? I’m not saying we can’t ever sing old hymns, I do love a few rounds of Amazing Grace or How Great Thou Art, but the verbiage of such songs may not always be relevant in a modern, first world America. Nothing against those songs, but life has changed since they were written. Customs have changed, and if we want to reach our fellow Americans we have to be willing to be modern and relevant.
I have heard people lamenting over the lost days of hymns, “old fashioned” preaching, tent revivals and non air conditioned churches. And while these things had an important place in the legacy of Christianity, would they be successful tools in today’s day and age to spread the gospel? Which, is the entire purpose of church to begin with. A church is a place of refuge. And if we can’t be comfortable there, how can it fulfill it’s purpose?
Can you be a Christian and not attend church? Yep. Can you be a Christian and attend a church that doesn’t have modern accommodations? Yep. But for me, today, I am thankful to be able to just drag my hot mess self, coffee in hand, and worship God without distractions. Today I am thankful for modernized Christianity.