A recent FAA study found that pilots are losing their “edge.” Their flying skills are being eroded because they are “under-challenged.” It seems that modern planes are now equipped in such a way that they literally almost fly themselves. Pilots are abdicating a ton of responsibility to all those automated systems. And it seems that the lack of a repetitive challenge in the cockpit is leading to more accidents.
To put it another way, “easy isn’t better.” A bit of a challenge would help keep their skills sharp.
Similarly, I am wondering if we aren’t doing the same thing with Christianity. I have only been a Christian for 45 years, but even in that span of time, I have seen “church” become “easier and easier.”
With a ton of good intentions, institutionally we have worked hard to make church more palatable. For example, we have limited the number of services per week (do you remember when “good “ Christians went to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and maybe Thursday for visitation?). We have shortened the service time itself, established a predictable pattern (two songs, announcements, message, one wrap up song) and made sure the kids don’t distract us, as they are well cared for in another room.
Pastors often preach with a PowerPoint slide show. Or maybe, they punctuate their message with one or more interesting movie clips. And to make it easier to take notes, we have half sheet outlines that only require us to fill in one or two alliterated terms.
I am wondering though if easier is really better.
Learning from God’s word is hard work. Understanding cross-cultural applications, putting things in a historical context, and getting the meaning of Biblical terms takes effort.
And then there is the whole application thing. How can we genuinely apply an insight or truth if all we wrestle with is what word to pencil in on the outline’s blank space?
None of us want to be bored. We all appreciate high interest activities. There is nothing wrong with variety and fun. But at the end of the day our participation in church needs to be active not passive. We need to be challenged. That’s how we will all learn and grow.
This week, I am suggesting that we all turn off our spiritual autopilots and get engaged!
(My thanks to Skye Jethani and his on line article “Is Church too Easy?” He got me to thinking…)