The Church is Not Burger King

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Many times I fear that I come across negative in this blog. I hope that is not the case. It is simply a platform for conversation. I hope to bring up things that deserve discussion. My prayer is that you never view me as a negative individual when it comes to the Church. There is nothing I love more than the Church. It is something to which I have dedicated my life. 

On that note, today’s discussion. Burger King is known for their slogan “Have it your way.” That mindset attracted a lot of people. When we get down to it, we would all love to have it our way. Let’s be real, no one wants to be a part of something that they do not like.

We support missions we like.

We go to a church we like.

We sing songs we like. 

We live in a neighborhood we like.

We do a job we like (well, not all of us).

We marry someone we like (I hope all of us do that…).

We all want to do something we like. We all want to be a part of something we like. And when we don’t like something, we like to transform it into something we like. My dad hates onions. Every time he orders something, he tells them to leave off the onions. If they don’t, he usually won’t eat it. And believe me, we have tried sneaking them into his food – he always finds them. My dad will transform something with onions into something without onions – something he doesn’t like into something he likes.

My fear with this mindset, is that we do this with the Church, especially within the non-denominational world. If we don’t like the carpeting in the church, we urge the church to change it. If we don’t like the elders in the church, we try to get them out. If we don’t like the preaching, we tell him/her how to do it better. If we don’t like the worship, we tell the worship leaders how to improve. If we don’t like the youth minister, we tell him/her what could be done to make the ministry better. I could go on and on with this list. But I’ll spare the redundancy and state the point: we change that which we don’t like.

This is a great mindset to have in our lives. Change the things we don’t like in ourselves. However, within the Church, is this right? Is it right to try to find a church to “fit our needs?” Is it right to try and change a church to be how we want it? Is it right to sing the songs that we want? Listen to the preaching we want? Pray the prayers we want? Support the missions we want? Where is the line between the will of God and the will of man? What happens when one person says, “God told me we should support this mission in India?” But another person says, “God told me we should support this mission in Mexico?” Who is right? To whom did God speak? Is it possible that both are really just trying to get what they want?

The Church is one place where everyone is an expert. Every person is an expert preacher, teacher, worship leader, youth leader, elder, meditator, children’s leader, etc. We all have input on how everyone can do their job better (and do their job according to how we would want it). I see this in myself. I confuse what I want with what God wants. Our desire is sometimes so strong that we cannot see what God wants.

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The Church is not Burger King. We cannot have it our way. We cannot change things just because “we don’t like them.” I speak to myself when I say this. We cannot change the preacher just because we don’t like his preaching. We cannot change the worship just because we don’t like the songs. We cannot change the view of communion just because we don’t like how uncomfortable it can make some feel. We cannot change things just because we want something different. It is something that has to be of God. We have to trust that the leaders are seeking God’s will for the direction of the church. If they are not, that will be brought to light – it always is.

In the meantime, let’s stop treating the Church like Burger King. Surprisingly enough, we are not all experts in ministry. The Church is not about us having it our way. It is about God having it His way. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we will begin acting like the Church.

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Why I Hope God Doesn’t Have a Plan For Me

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The title is pretty self-explanatory. But it is still not completely accurate.

As Christians, we live our lives hoping that God has a plan for us. We hope that every decision we make is part of “the plan.” We always say, “God has a plan,” “Just wait for God’s plan to reveal itself,” or “God’s plan for your life is not this.” In fact, if I have to hear someone tell me, “God has a plan” one more time, I may just vomit.

Many Christians believe that God has a plan for them because they have had Jeremiah 29.11 stapled on their foreheads since they were babies. But even upon reading the verse, does it deal with specifics or general ideas? “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (NIV). It seems to me that it speaks generally about the plans. It doesn’t say: “Jeremiah, I know the plans I have for you. Here’s what I’m going to do. The first thing, I’m going to get you a wife. Her name will be Lucy. Next, you’ll build a home. But don’t worry about that home for too long, it’ll be destroyed. But after it is destroyed you will have a better home. Oh and you’ll have 167 goats.” No. It doesn’t say that (and not just because it is a completely inaccurate summary of Jeremiah).

Here is my beef with the whole: “God has a plan for you.” What does that mean for free will? There are several routes we could take with the question: Free will causes you to choose against God, Free will is controlled by God to help you make the right decisions, Free will becomes God’s will once you begin to follow Him, etc. So if your free will chooses against God’s specific plan, does that mean that you have chosen against God? If your free will becomes God’s will, then is it free will? If your free will chooses correctly, how many times does it choose incorrectly? Is it possible that there are multiple things that God would have you to do with your life? Is this all too confusing and not really important?

Here is what I mean by hoping that God doesn’t have a plan for me: if there is a specific plan, that means that life could constantly be full of wrong decisions, wrong moves, etc. I do believe that there are things, as Christians, that we should not do: prostitution, drug dealing, idol building, temple destroying, pimping, etc. But if I were to say that my time that I have spent at home is part of God’s plan, I would also have to say that it is the part of the plan that occurs after something really exciting. I have enjoyed my time at home. I have learned many things throughout my time at home, but did God specifically want me home from July 19th, 2011-??? I have no idea. I believe that God had things He wanted to teach me and He has used this time in my life to teach me those things.

All this mess is to say, if God has a specific plan for me, it might be on the sucky side right now. Not because I’m at home. Not because I hate my life. But because there are so many things I want to do, there are so many things I am passionate about doing, and I am not for sure if this is one of them. “If God has a specific plan for me, why haven’t doors opened up?” You reply, “patience.” “How long should one be patient?” “As long as it takes.” “But what happens if you’re so patient that you zone out and miss the doors?” “God will make it known.” “But how do you distinguish between the will of God and emotions?” “They work together.” “Where does logic come into play?” “It can’t be the will of God if it is logical” (okay, maybe people don’t say this, but they imply it).

To me, this takes the fun out of life. I believe that we should stop worrying about the specifics of God’s plan and worry about the general ideas of His plan: to make His Kingdom evident. Whatever passions one may have should be put to that use (you see how prostitution, drug dealing, idol building, temple destroying, and pimping don’t fit into this category?). This is why I hope God does not have a specific plan for me life. I don’t want to worry all my life about screwing it up. Instead, I want to take chances, I want to take risks, learn a lot, fail a lot, learn a lot, fail a lot, learn a lot (that keeps going on), etc. I want to make dangerous choices to serve God. However, sometimes His “specific plan” mentality gets in the way of that.

Am I right? In my opinion, I don’t know. I honestly have no answer to this. Many will respond with Scripture. In advance, I appreciate it. Know that I have read those, as well. So don’t worry about screaming them at me. But let a discussion happen. How much better would life be if we stopped praying for a specific plan to be revealed and instead we began to live every moment making His Kingdom evident…wherever that might take us.