Someone actually said this at a giant Christian thingy I had the misfortune to attend last night. Though I shouldn't characterize it as mis-fortune as luck was not involved. I got in my car, drove there, and walked in under my own power. The event was held at a large local church--this should have been a red flag.
There were hundreds of people attending this thingy, mostly but not completely adolescents, and they were groovin' to a band that may have been pretty good, except that their sound tech had the instruments at about 65db and the voices at 90db; they looked like they were having a good time though.
Then, a drama, which was performed by students from large Red Flag Church's youth ministry. It wasn't bad either, except that two of the main characters' mics were turned off for the first half of it. They looked like they were haveing a good time though.
After that, they brought on The Speaker. I guess it was supposed to be some famous football player but since I don't know or care about football I wouldn't have known who it was. Football dude's wife had given birth that weekend so he cancelled and they brought in this other guy, not a football player but equally unheard of by me. The second string speaker talked about the grace of God, which was sort of the theme for the night, as well as the theme of my life, so you would think I would be interested.
He yelled, he screamed--I'm not kidding. He talked about how he met Jeremy Camp. I must admit I was impressed, though I kept thinking, "who is Jeremy Camp?" My lack of knowledge about this must reflect my feelings about Christian music. Everyone else knew exactly who JC was (is). I wanted to say, "I know Sam Getz!" but everyone else, including the speaker, was screaming so much that I didn't think they would notice, or care if they did.
SO then, Screaming Speaker dude gave the "altar call." AGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!! And he said something in there about how if you made the "decision" to "accept" Jesus into your heart that it would behoove you to come up to the altar because the Word of God says "if you confess him publicly, Jesus will confess you before the heavenly Father." After saying this he paused just long enough for all of us to consider the inverse of this statement and its implications.
He put down the microphone and asked the band to come up. They returned to the stage and sang a song called Breathe, by Marie Barnett, which I really like. And now I could hear the instruments as well as the vocals. The sound tech must have realized this as well, so he quickly reset the instruments to their previous and nearly inaudible levels. When they had finished the song, the highly photogenic female worship leader with the rather tight black blouse and (it seemed) teary eyes, put the microphone to her lips and, her voice full of drama and import, said, "Let's give it up for Jesus."
I gave it up alright. My stomach was turning and I didn't want to throw up all over the pre-pubers and adolescents who were streaming forward in fear that God would not "acknowledge" them if they didn't (okay, maybe they weren't fearing that but I still didn't want to vomit on them). So I left.
Most of (the two of) you who read this blog undoubtedly know of my moderately long career as a youth minister. I don't think I ever did anything as manipulative and (to my mind) as grace-less as what I've described above, but maybe I did and have repressed the memory. If I did, I'm sorry. I won't do it again.
So why is the church so lame? Comment if you dare.