Pop quiz: Based on the title, how did I choose the content of this blog post?
A) Spent time stressing about what to write about in my FIRST blog post.
B) Googled “what to write in your first blog post.”
C) Found an article that suggested starting a post with a pop quiz.
D) Stressed some more about what to write in my first blog post.
E) Decided to google “church” (since “church” is what this blog is mostly about).
F) Based the content of this post on the first google results that searching “church” gave me.
G) All of the above.
If you guessed “B” then you’re right. Just kidding; “G” is of course the correct answer.
Let me explain two things before I get to the Google results and my thoughts. First, I didn’t have trouble figuring out content for this post because I don’t have a lot to say about church. The opposite would be more true. Church, is a topic on which I am passionate and opinionated. I have a million (literally) thoughts, feelings, and beliefs on the subject. This, of course, makes it difficult to decide what to say first. If you asked me to do a blog on giraffes, I would write on the only semi-interesting fact I know about them – they retain water better than camels (I desperately hope this is not the thing you remember most from this post). But when it comes to church, my heart and mind are filled and thus, it was difficult to know where to begin.
Second, it was not my intention to blog about the first results to come up on Google. I searched “church” on Google simply to get some direction. I figured that the first result would be the Wikipedia entry and that the next few results would show me what church topic was currently “relevant” in the minds of people. I figured that would be my post topic. But, to my surprise, the Wikipedia entry was not first. Nope, the first entry was Church’s Chicken. Since I was totally unfamiliar with this organization, a fast food restaurant that we don’t have in Oregon, I clicked on the link. As I was exploring their site I couldn’t help but see similarities between Church’s Chicken and THE CHURCH in America. I knew what I was going to blog about. But, I didn’t start writing. I was curious. “I wonder what the first Google image result is for church,” I thought to myself. I clicked “images” and then examined the first result. I had more to write about. This process continued for Google Videos, Maps, News, Shopping, and Books. The following are my thoughts, as they pertain to the church, on each of the top results.
Church’s Chicken’s (Say that ten times fast!) company overview begins, “Church’s Chicken® is a highly recognized brand name in the Quick Service Restaurant sector and is one of the largest quick-service chicken concepts in the World.” When you go to their website (and the Facebook Page it links to) the content is less about what they serve (presumably chicken) and more about how well they serve it. Only sandwiched in between self-promoting statements about the quality of their company can one find information describing the quality of their chicken. In fact, on the temporary website that they currently have up you can easily find out about how great it is to be a franchise owner but, you cannot find anything out about the chicken. The organization has taken precedence over the food they serve.
My beef is not with chicken (Probably the best sentence I will ever write!). It is instead with this same problem working its way into the modern church. As you peer around the landscape of the church in America, it is undeniable that for many churches it has become more about their church and less about the God it serves (Update: For clarity sake, by “the God” or “their God” I mean the God of the Bible. I have Christian churches in mind throughout this post).
In his blog post, “What Kind of Online Culture Are We Cultivating,” Dane Ortlund asks this question, “What if we made up our minds to refuse to quietly electronically parade whatever accomplishments the Lord grants? What if we let the Lord decide who knows of us and what we’ve done? What if every post, tweet, and FB update was passed through the fine filter of Matthew 23:12?” In case you are like me and do not have Matthew 23:13 memorized, it says, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” While this passage speaks directly to individuals, I can’t help but wonder if it’s application should be extended to the church.
Please don’t get me wrong. I am not against church marketing or advertising. I love the blogs Church Relevance and Less Clutter/Less Noise,which are both about church communication. Even more, the website you are on is for the church I pastor. We worked hard on this website and tried to develop it in a way that was clean and cool. We made sure it communicated well who we are as a church. I do not have a problem with nice websites, well designed sermon graphics, or hip bulletins. What I have a problem with is churches that promote themselves above their God. When I look around I see that often churches talk more about the quality of their children’s ministry then they do about the quality of their God. Churches often spend more time making their next sermon graphic look good than they do making their God look good. Churches often take more care to show people the way to their Sunday services than they do to show people the way to their God. This is not the way it should be. Instead, the church is to be an organization that should put the attention, focus, honor, and glory on the God it serves. God should not be shoved somewhere in the middle of a church’s self-promotional statements but instead, should be the focus of all that a church does. When this is not the case, the church fails to be what God has intended it to be and becomes far too much like a fast food chicken restaurant. With no offense intended to Church’s Chicken, God created the church for far greater purposes then this.
I am already out of space in this blog post and so, I will cover “Abraham Lincoln” and the rest of the Google results in the next post.
Thanks for reading my first blog post! If you have thoughts, please leave a comment below.