Friday, December 23, 2011

And now for something completely different

I just read an article that a guy wrote a few years ago about our church in Finsbury Park.  He calls himself, "The Mystery Worshipper" and visits churches all around England on a Sunday morning, and then writes reviews about them.  Apparently he had visited our main London church and had his observations about the beautiful building, the friendliness (or lack thereof) of the church staff, of the loudness of the microphones and the "patrolling" of the assistants who he called stewards.  He thought it was generally a friendly place, but strongly disliked any of the teachings on tithes and offerings.  Even though he said there were other teachings as well, he zoomed in on the giving aspect and felt it was "disturbing."

He came with some preconceptions, no doubt; he was a white English guy going to a predominantly black immigrant community church, and he didn't come with the purpose of humbling himself before God, but to add another post to his blog of reviews. I don't take everything he said as the gospel, yet there is something intriguing about this Mystery Worshipper.

We rarely get to see what our churches, our groups and even we as individuals appear to be in the eyes of others who observe us.  We like to assume that because all we do is with the best of intentions and for the noblest of causes, it covers for any mistakes we might inadvertently make.  In the eyes of God, yes, He judges us by our motives and our faith, and can bless us despite our faults.  Obviously He does or none of us would survive!

But if our lives, and our churches are to exist for the purpose of reaching out to others with the Good News, removing potential obstacles is only common sense.  We should be willing to hear what others say about their impressions, if they have the courage to do so - like this Mystery Worshipper.  An assistant ran after him as he was leaving the service to ask if he liked it.  I'm sure the man told him yes, because what else could he say to the assistant's eager face?  Most are too polite to say how horrendously we sing, or how confusing the songs or prayers are or how unwelcoming we may be (just as examples - I'm not picking on anyone.)

The more modern hip churches on the other hand, are so concerned about appearances that they have gone to extremes to be cool.  When I turn on the TV and see a guy on a black stage with a mike and tailored dress shirt with the tails out, skinny jeans and perfectly coiffed messy hair with blond highlights, a leather wrist band and a Bible, I think, this guy's trying way too hard... and change the channel.

So we can't please everyone. We can't be obsessed with appearances.  We have to say what God leads us to say whether people like it or not. We have to be sincere. That's a fact.

But there needs to be room for listening and understanding how we may be turning people off so much that they can't hear what God is saying because we stubbornly want to stick with our traditions or the idea that, "this is just the way I do things."  Who said that the way you are is the way it has to be?


Núbia Onara said...

I read a similar article a while ago and the author made ​​a list of everything that felt bad.
With certainty and need urgently to align God's way of doing things in order to achieve more and more souls.
No matter how good our intentions, our way is not always the best.

God bless you

Miss Tara said...

Reading this just makes me even more happy and inspired about this journey i am on. A lot that I am learning so far seems to be backed up in this post. I like that the author takes this opportunity to look within as a way to look for ways to better improve ourselves & our mission. However I feel this must be done with a very careful balance. While construction criticism can be a good thing, & I understand the need for it in the case of the Mystery Worshiper I would find it hard to look at it objectively. His faith may or may not be as strong which I would think would cloud his judgement. Anyway, this was interesting to read.

Bless u always,

Miss Tara

Baithuti said...

Mystery worshipper?? I've officially heard it all :) Most newcomers dislike the teachings of tithes and offerings, but unfortunately the word of God cannot be changed to accomodate our ideas and comfort zones.I for one love being told the truth at UCKG. Wonder if the mystery worshipper ever did a follow-up visit to the Rainbow? *and God bless that eager assistant*