Leadership Summit Part 2

In 2005 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.  They have sold more than 145 million albums worldwide and hold 22 Grammys, more than any other band.  Rolling Stone magazine has listed them at #22 out of the 100 greatest artists of all time.  If you are on top of your music game you would know that we are talking about the band, U2, the world renowned, Irish rock band.


The lead singer of U2, Bono, has made a couple of appearances at the Summit.  He has been a compassionate leader for humantiarian causes through organizations like Amnesty International and the ONE Campaign.  A few years ago he challenged the church in a number of ways.  His basic premise was that the church was doing nothing to help the cause of humanity.  His opinion was that the church had merely gotten in the way of social justice and humanitarian projects.  He has had some sharp and challenging words for the church over the last few years because of this.

This year was slightly different.  Over the last three years he has been amazed at the work the church has done, specifically in regards to the AIDS crisis in Africa.  Substantial ministries have been started and funds raised and he attributes much of it to the awakening of the church to the needs in the world.  Now many people in the church don’t want to take advice from someone who isn’t a “Christian” in the strict sense that they define a Christian as.  So for those of you who think you have nothing to learn from someone who isn’t as traditional as you, the rest of this blog is not for you.

I was encouraged by the church’s ambition in tackling worldwide humanitarian issues.  But there was one quote that Bono gave that stuck with me and I wrote it down in my notes.  I want to challenge the church and all followers of Christ with it.  When Bill Hybels asked him about his church attendance Bono replied with small talk about the churches he has attended.  Different churches all around the world that he has visited or been a part of.  When it comes to church there is one turn off that he mentioned.  Here is his quote, “What I find hard to take is lifeless ceremony.”  Not that any of us have ever seen a church that is simply going through the motions right?

My question is, “What does a church that has ‘lifeless ceremony’ look like?  What exactly does that mean?”  In my mind it is a church service where the motions are there, but the heart part is not.  In a church that is lifeless you will hear many things that are clues to the lifelessness inside.  Things like…

Excuse me, this is our pew.

Who moved the communion table?

Well, that just wasn’t my style of worship.

What happened to the candle I donated?

Look at that shirt.  Doesn’t she know this is church?

When I think of a lifeless ceremony, I think of people who can sit there for years and still never get it.  It is obvious from the second you walk in the door that the people inside are just going through the motions.  They aren’t really connected to each other or anything bigger than themselves, but they have been there for 100 years so they just have to keep it going.  It is an unfortunate fate that many churches experience.

What do you think of when you hear ‘lifeless ceremony?’

So how do we fix it?  How do we change the perception in the world that the church is just lifeless?  The perception that says there is no life-changing message in that place.  Look how ‘lifeless’ they are.  I would challenge every one who considers themselves to be a follower of Christ that the answer is as far away as the bathroom mirror.  Go to your bathroom, look in the mirror and what do you see?  That’s right.  You see, you!  You are the answer.  You don’t have to be paid clergy or seminary graduates; the Apostles weren’t.  Why does the church naturally assume that if it is lifeless then it must be someone else’s fault?

The pastor’s sermon sure was depressing today.

Can you believe what the children’s pastor did?

Look at the way he is dressed.

I can’t believe the elders made that decision.

What were they thinking?

It may just be that the answer to ‘lifeless ceremony’ in the church is for Christians to come back to life.  Our Savior said He came to give us life to the full and we live it half empty.  He came that we could have freedom and we live in the bondage of sacred cows.  He came to restore His relationship with humanity and we keep Him locked away in the church “sanctuary” for Sunday morning.  Is it really any wonder that the church is perceived as ‘lifeless?’  But maybe this time it isn’t the pastor’s fault, the elder’s fault, the staff’s fault or anyone else that we can find to point the finger at.  Maybe it is us, everyday Christians who have simply missed the call to life by Jesus.  Maybe the person staring back at you in the mirror is the reason.

Are you living out a full life with Jesus Christ everyday?

Are you restoring your relationship with Him each morning?

Are you making the most of your freedom in Jesus Christ?

Are you personally doing something as a follower of Christ as opposed to just sitting on a pew, becoming obese on spiritual food?

The answer to ‘lifeless ceremony’ is in the mirror.  If followers of Christ are experiecing Christ to the full all week long, they will bring that with them to a Sunday morning service.  Church on Sunday morning is just a reflection of your relationship with Jesus Christ on Monday to Saturday.  So if your church feels ‘lifeless,’ maybe you need to take a good long look in the mirror.

So, what do you think?  What am I missing?  Do you have another idea of what ‘lifeless’ looks like to you?  What would you do to ‘fix’ it?


About Stan Rodda

Follower. Husband. Father. Shepherd. Apostle. Husker.

Posted on August 27, 2009, in Church, discipleship, music and entertainment, the basics, the nation. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Great post!! To me a lifeless ceremony focuses on the programs and the benefits of church, making thousands of copies before church, greeting people at the door, and then thinking about the “to-do” list during worship songs, or wondering what’s up with the worship team today?

    To be honest, I rarely have my best worship during the actual church service. But every now and then there’s a moment when the Spirit moves. Lots of people miss it, but for those who don’t it’s an honor to have Jesus show up in our service.

  2. Great post. I am tempted to say that anything i say would be redundant. I cringe when things are done haphazardly or without any feeling. I am turned off. I can only imagine what a guest might be thinking. Then again, I must also look inside and see if am one doing things with lifeless ceremony. Thanks for the challenging post.

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