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Change the Question

Today’s Reflection

AS TIME PASSES, questions change. Back in the 1960s when I became a pastor, the primary faith question was, “Is it true?” College students, teachers, scientists, and others wanted to know the truth as presented by Christianity. Study groups, classes, conferences, and conversations went on and on about the convictions and claims of Christianity. …

Today, the questions are different. In the church, as in much of life, “Who benefits?” is more important than the validity of certain beliefs. So the primary question becomes, “How can the church benefit me?” For this reason we see persons “shopping’ for congregations that can provide the most.

If local congregations buy into this mentality, the temptation will be to market the church like a secular product. Churches will focus on marketing strategies that hope to bring in key demographics of church-goers instead of focusing on the basic spiritual needs of their congregants and communities.

Our purpose is not to market the institutional church like one would market a new restaurant. We have a larger purpose: to help connect persons to God and one another through Jesus Christ. …

Asking ourselves what we believe about God and what God wants to do through us is more important than “How can I benefit?”

– Joe E. Pennel Jr.
God, Cornbread, and Elvis

From page 52 of God, Cornbread, and Elvis: Ponderings on Ordinary Graces by Joe E. Pennel Jr. Copyright © 2013 by Joe E. Pennel Jr. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What question do you have for the church? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.
Exodus 20:8, NRSV

This Week: pray for grandparents. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Francis of Assisi, October 4).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

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{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Jill October 3, 2017, 3:59 am

    I don’t know that I have a question for the church. I feel like the church I left in March was somewhat caught up in what the author mentions above. Trying to woo the younger generation. More flashing lights, louder music…seemed like it was marketing itself.
    The church I am at now is so humble…the people are united in their brokenness, their need for a Saviour. No posturing, just authentic sharing and worship. I am so grateful for this new church home, it feels more right each week. And the ladies I have met in the women’s small group Bible study – they are very real, very open and very accepting. I am letting my guard down – a good thing, and they are welcoming me.

    • Connie October 3, 2017, 8:50 am

      Follow your heart….it is obvious it belongs to God.

  • Louise October 3, 2017, 4:48 am

    Jill that is so wonderful that you have found this church. I am happy for you. We all need a place where we can feel comfortable and as you say Jill “able to let our guard down.” My family belonged to a church for a long time…my husband and I were married there, my children were baptized there, made confirmation there and attended mass always but then it changed. It became like the church that Jill mentioned…so my husband and I attended a mass at the church we are attending now and loved it. The people are wonderful! The priest is wonderful! Again, like Jill mentioned “the people are united in brokenness.” My husband and I are involved in programs helping and feeding poor. We are trying to develop something to help the mentally challenged. We feel like our church is an extended family…My question is, What is the recipe that makes a strong church? Does it depend on the people that worship there? I am saddened by the horrific tragedy in Las Vagas. I pray for all involved. I pray for all here at UR. I pray for all that struggle mentally, physically, and spiritually. May all find peace…may the world find peace. I pray that God will help me to be the best version of myself today.

  • robert moeller October 3, 2017, 4:52 am

    My new church is very small and for everything to work everyone needs to do a lot to make things happen. Being a multi-tasker is very helpful. This week I
    already sang in the choir, lit the candles, pledged, donated, and worshipped. Squash and potato peeling will be followed by clean up after the chicken pie supper. Thank You, Lord.

    Very thankful that grandparents from both of my parents were in my life. It’s been quite a while since they were with us. My parents and wife’s mother were great grandparents to my children. For a time my children even had great-grandparents. Four years ago I was promoted to grandfather, very thankful to Time Face with my granddaughters as they live about 8 hours drive away.

    My question: Why don’t people believe? Faith is not science, there is no scientific way to prove faith, but faith, for those of us who believe, most certainly is real. Thank You, Lord, for this truth.

    Prayers for grandparents, the people of Puerto Rico and Las Vegas, a friend’s
    father in hospice, Anneliese, Erich, and the needs of all of you here at the UR. God’s peace to you all.

  • Julie October 3, 2017, 8:04 am

    As I stated yesterday, I am a member of the country nation. That is how we think of ouselves and indeed how we are represented within and without of our nation. We are all mourning with those in Las Vegas, but celebrating the heros among us who helped their fellow members.
    I beleve that both types of churches are needed today. There are those that feel comfortable in the old guard type of church. But at the same time these churches lament the lack of new and young members. There is a church in Pittsburgh that noow has three campuses (as they call them) that was originally started by several college students. It is loud and it has flashy productions, but there are so many young people. And they give to the community and work in their community as volunteers and are having a conference this month. They praise the Lord, loudly yes, but they praise Him and also come as broken to their church seeking fellowship and acceptance. This is amazing in this day.
    Blessings and prayers for all of my UR friends. Thank you for listening to me and accepting me in my brokenness…

  • Connie October 3, 2017, 9:05 am

    “For wherever two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them”

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