Monday, March 22, 2010

Bribes and Cheapening the Sacred

What a sad, sad day this is for our country. As I sat last night and listened to the vote count on the health care reform, I was numb. When Nancy P. said "Tonight we make history and better our nation," I said she was half right. History was made, but a nation was not bettered.
I sat and watched a democracy turn another page towards socialism, and what tore me up even more was to see Ohio Representative Driehaus, 'change his mind' and revise at the last minute his vote to a yes in favor of health care reform. This of course had nothing to do with Vice-president Biden making a special visit last week to a fund raiser for Driehaus. Many back door deals are being pointed at as to the reason this bill was able to be passed....regardless of how you feel about the reform, we all can agree we love our nation and we will pray for our leaders.
Those back door deals though, they fire us up don't they? The audacity to bribe and cheapen politics such as that....but that leads me to our thought this week....
Zoo Day, free kites, Freddy the Flipping Frog give away, come see the BMX star do a back flip, pizza, hot dogs, cotton candy, win a bike, everyone wins a prize, carnival games, bring your mamma to see the llama, horse rides, limo rides, and all for just riding OUR BUS to church this week!
This of course is nothing like the bribing and cheapening of our nations heritage in politics, this is SOULS! That justifies it...right?
We have four routes each week, and thank the Lord for the privilege of bringing others to church. I have spent the last 27 years of my life in three churches that all ran successful bus programs. I have worked on many bus routes, driven bus routes, captained four routes, and started three routes from scratch. I have been personally in charge of our jr. church program and worked in a jr. church off and on since I was 16. I have seen many children make professions of faith....hundreds of children...without exaggeration 1,000s of children make professions of faith through these ministries; and I know of maybe 50 still in church of those professions.
I did again, you know, I looked in the Bible for Bus routes. Couldn't find anything. I know, I know....
And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. Luke 14:23

Of course we would have to ignore that in context the Lord was teaching how that the Jews had rejected the Truth and the Gospel was being taken to the gentiles. It's a great motivational verse though to reaching the lost, but this was done for 2,000 years without gimmicks and prizes or a bus route that does such.
Now let me say this plainly: I love our bus routes. I love every child that rides in on those busses, I wish we had 30 bus routes, we will always pick up all those who desire to go to the house of God. I just wonder the following:
1. If our desire is to bring those who desire to come to the house of God, why do we not run them on Sunday nights or mid-week?
2. I know it happens, I've watched it all my life, many of the children go to the church that gives away the best stuff. What lesson are we instilling in them? Are we not teaching them that determining which church to go to revolves around what you are getting out of it? And then we wonder why they grow up and quit or go to evangelical, vineyard, flesh pleasing assemblies? We taught them that way.
3. Wasn't church designed for the saint? I am not saying that people can't be saved at a church, but the church was designed by God for the saint and the perfecting of that saint. We all must agree that when a church is designed with the lost in mind (Vineyards, purpose driven, evangelical), it must weaken doctrine, change music, be centered on activities and entertainment, and keep giving and putting out in order to keep them coming...sounds like Jr. Church doesn't it?
4. What percentage of church budget is being spent on pizzas, stuffed animals, 2 liters, and a myriad of Kipp Bros. junk? While the missionary's support is being lowered, pastor is getting a second job, and the mortgage continues on the property?
5. Doesn't 1 Cor. 11 teach against gathering in the house of God in the wrong spirit: "I praise you not that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse"? It does matter in what spirit you come to assemble, and greed and selfishness are not proper spirits.
6. Do we not believe that proselyting is wrong? If there is a brother that is going to another Bible believing Baptist church, it would be wrong to steal them from that church so that they can be added to this flock; yet, it is accepted in the bus ministry. Not just with the children, in order to win the trip to King's Island amusement park, they have to bring visitors, and thus take their Aunt Mollie, Grandpa Jones, and other relatives away from their local church to come to ours. Isn't that contrary to Scripture and the doctrine of the local church?

The Lord's churches are like nothing else on this earth. It is unique and it is sacred. To be a member of one such church, one must be saved and Scripturally baptized. He then can join the church by that baptism, by moving of letter as a result of God moving Him for a doctrinal reason, or by statement should his previous church unfortunately cease existence. I do know that God does move folks and sets the members in the body, but this is clearly God's moving.
Does not our goldfish, pizza, horse rides, and $5 bills contradict everything we have discussed? Are we not cheapening the church, our Lord's sacred institution?
I am not against having a hot dog, slice of watermelon, or a full out meal with the members of the church-including our bus riders; but when we make that the reason why they come...well..."have ye not houses to eat in?"
I agree that the prize doesn't change the Gospel, and that truly was my motivation in keeping on giving away our trinkets...but it does cheapen and belittle the doctrine of the church. We will continue as long as our Lord allows us, to run routes and pick up those who desire to come to our church, but we cannot bribe, we cannot steal from the other sound church, we cannot cheapen the church and train young people to belittle it.
When we do, we are not better than a high ranking political figure buying a vote to achieve his goal.


Jack Lamb said...

Tipping over sacred cows is the right thing to do, but not very popular. Thanks for doing it!

Grammy Blick said...

Your poll didn't have an "Other", nor "Sunday Morning and Wednesday" so I couldn't answer. And I am grateful for those 50 out of the 500 where the word fell on fertile ground. Are the statistics really better for the adults attending worship services?

Travis Burke said...

Thanks Grammy...poll answer noted.
I too am grateful for the "50", but that is out of "1,000's" not 500.
As I said, we run busses and continue to run busses and hope to always run busses. My point was not wheter running busses was right or not, but rather is using gimmicks and bribery to get them to come to church right. In the typical 'bus program' there are so many give aways, contests, and special events that it makes the church house many times nothing less than a carnival house.
We would never dream of using a "Christian Rock" band to build a crowd...even though out of those 1,000s you could probably see a few also that genuinely get saved and you could get to stay faithful to church. The problem in using such means is that it cheapens the doctrine of the church, it shows a lack of faith in the means by which the Lord said to build the church-preaching of the Gospel, and teaches the children to 'go to the church that gives you the most stuff.'
My point in writing this is this: if perhaps we spent the effort and monies in discipling and training the young people through the preaching and teaching of the church, and had less 'bike giveaways', perhaps we could see most stay faithful.
While I am sure that building this type of bus ministry willl not make the front page of the "Church Page News" with its high days and glorified numbers, it most definitely should be more effective.
Instead of running 500 on busses each week and a handful "be that fertile ground" you spoke of. Doing it our Lord's way (the Gospel and sound preaching) may bring in 100 per week, but if most if not all of them become that fertile ground and stay faithful, is it not so much the greater?
Thanks for your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for another insightful article. Spells out what I have been considering for the last few months.