The raging competition of who can build the biggest and best roller coasters is focusing its attention on Hersheypark this year. This past winter they built SkyRush, their tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster with one-of-a-kind winged outer seats (per their website description). A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to give SkyRush a try. I do like a good roller coaster and SkyRush was a thrill, although, personally, The Great Bear is still my favorite coaster in the park.
Right near the SkyRush sits the Super Dooper Looper. This was the latest and greatest coaster when I was a kid. It was introduced in 1977 with the promise to actually take you upside down! 35 years later, the Super Dooper Looper feels like almost a kiddie ride. It is truly amazing how far along America has come in building roller coasters.
There is something in our human nature that demands something newer. Something better. Something greater. We get bored with the same old thing. This human tendency seems to have especially dug its roots deep into American soil, where we insatiably search for bigger and better. Whether we are referring to roller coasters, the latest technology, or cars, contentment is hard to find these days. Even if we are happy with what we have, we believe there must be something better if we can only find it…or afford it.
And I would venture to say that this same mindset has subtly crept its way into many of our churches, as well. Pushing the edge isn’t just something for amusement parks, anymore. Many modern churches have joined the Bigger and Better movement and are trying things like adding heavy metal or rock music, dances, and sermons based on secular (ungodly) movies to their worship services. And why? To be the church that is doing something new, something great, something awesome, so that they can attract a world that is looking for something newer, greater, and awesomer (yeah, I know it’s not a word).
But should this be where our attention is focused as believers? Does God need us to be like the world in order to win the world? If we take a step back in history we will see that the answer to that is NO. Whether we go the whole way back to Rome or we step back just a few hundred years into American History, we will see that great revivals and growth of the true church took place because Christians chose to be different than the world…not like them. Preachers preached a message that wasn’t comfortable, appealing, or fun and yet God worked! He drew thousands to himself using men and women who were willing to stand up, turn their backs on the world, and be different.
It seems we may have forgotten that it is the Holy Spirit Who does the work of saving…not secular rock songs, gimmicky pastors, or worldly methods. It is God who draws people to himself (John 6:44). The trend of adding pop culture to worship is certainly leading to church buildings filled with people. But are they people who truly understand what being a Christian really means? Are they people who will turn away from the world and their own selfish desires to follow Jesus? I can’t answer for individuals, of course. But I know what I see in the church as a whole and I can’t help but wonder if the addiction to the latest and greatest isn’t hindering the Kingdom of God instead of helping it?