In 1986, I had the pastor thing all figured out. Preach the Word and love people. That’s how I was taught. And it worked. It worked very well.
In my first pastorate I became skilled at the art of preaching and God blessed. I learned to love folks, even those who were difficult to love. And God blessed. A congregation numbering 40 became one approaching 125. In my third pastoral assignment, I watched 150 join our flock in just 15 months.
But then it all changed.
The first thing to evolve was the music. No more hymnals; words needed to be put on a projection screen. No more hymns; we started singing “praise and worship” songs. ( I assumed we had already been doing that.) Pianos and organs were out; guitars and drums were in. Choir? No way. We needed an ensemble (“praise team”) instead. Music director standing behind the podium keeping time with his arm? Goodness no dude. The church needed a “worship leader.” Gaither gave way to Hillsong.
And it left me standing in the dust. I became a relic of the past. An animal of extinction. I became a church dinosaur.
And then churches quit passing the plate, choosing to receive offerings in boxes or on the Internet . We stopped recognizing visitors by making them fill out cards. (And for the love of Pete, never ask them to stand up or raise their hand!) No more invitations or altar calls, no more singing eight verses of “Just As I Am.” One pastor encouraged me to remove the “cringe factor” from my church services. I felt like I was approaching my senior adult years at age 35.
And wearing a business suit in the pulpit? Are you serious? Untucked shirts, blue jeans and loafers are in style brother! Spike that hair! Trim your goatee! Wear horn- rimmed glasses just like your third- grade teacher used to wear. Man, do I feel overdressed on Sundays nowadays.
Sunday School? Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat. Week-long revival meetings? No way… That’s too much competition with baseball and softball, soccer, gymnastics, dance, Facebook, Netflix…not to mention Friday and Saturday night liquor time.
Take out the pews and put in chairs! Take down those chandeliers and put in stage lighting, backdrops and install state of the art sound and technology. Clean out the foyer and open up a coffee shop. Tear down the chalkboards and put up an indoor playground, complete with cool themes.
I’m sorry, but I don’t recognize church anymore. I am an old dinosaur looking for a watering hole and all I can see is Jurassic Park. I am lost.
The worst part of all is that men don’t preach like the men of yesteryear. I miss Adrian Rogers. I miss Vance Havner. I miss Jess “Hellfire” Hendley. I miss the KJV. I miss verse by verse Bible preaching. I hate this modern “conversational” junk with all the cute stories and popular psychology. I want to hear sermons with passion, Holy Spirit conviction and powerful soul-stirring confrontation. People are going to hell by the millions and leaving churches by the millions.
We need to return to the old ways. We need to see folks saved the old way, through the blood of Jesus, the way of the cross. It worked in 1986. It can still work in 2017.
Yes, I am an old fogey trapped in a young body. I am a dinosaur. I’m also right.