I was watching some Hillsong videos and was thinking “isn’t it amazing to be part of such an active church” but then at the same time, a thought crossed my mind of the negative way my host family reacted when I started going to a great church here that is different from the traditional Japanese church they are used to.
Some people I have met in Japan and outside, Christian and non Christian, had the concern that “active churches” like ours that helps its people grow in evangelizing, ministry, worship, leadership, knowledge about God and grow out of personal problems, are too “different” and “too active”. I’ve heard them say that “you shouldn’t be THAT active in church. You don’t need to meet people from church more than once a week.” In Japan maybe this has something to do with the history they have with cults like Aum Shinryoku, which has given them this fear of being too active in Church. Maybe this kind of history makes Japanese people consider being an active Christian means you’re part of an abnormal church. For non-Christians also, who are more familiar with church as an institution rather than as a relationship with Jesus, it might be strange to see people so devoted to God and church.
Coming back to the main point, the church I go to is labeled “too different”, because it attracts many people. It is different because this church stresses on the importance of God’s word, importance of obedience to God’s word and active fellowship. Maybe it was surprising for them to see a church that was active in evangelism, missions, ministry, that focused on growth at personal and church level. Maybe it surprised them because of how our worship style was similar to that of Hillsong and how everyone actually enjoyed coming to church and being with God. Maybe the commitment the Christians in this church have for God and the church makes the church fall under the negatively imaged “cult” category according to some people…HOWEVER,if you explore the bible properly, you’d realize that the early church was different from the mainstream religions of those days. The early church and thus Christianity was originally ACTIVE and thriving. It was a cult if you look at it from the point of view of those belonging to the main stream religions in those days- because early Christianity WAS different.
Reading Acts of the new testament, and especially this part in Acts chapter 2 made me realize that the church I go to and other active churches similar to Hillsong are actually more similar to the early churches than churches that are passive!
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2: 42-47 NIV)
This clearly shows how the early Christians were DEVOTED. They lived for the church. They praised God, they were glad, had rejoicing hearts. They met frequently with each other and God was pleased with them, and added to their numbers! God sent along many people to their midst to be saved because God was happy with what was going on in the early church. God saw the passion and devotion they had to him! God is not happy with a church where people come on Sundays and just forget about him for the rest of the week. God is not happy when people come with a hardened, grudging heart. If you go to church thinking “ah, its Sunday – oh no, have to go to church!” if there’s no joy in your heart… but only a feeling of obligation- God’s not going to be happy.
God wants us to enjoy church, enjoy fellowship and being with him! God wants worship to mean something! If you’re having trials, God wants us to lift up those worries to him in worship. Therefore, the type of songs you sing, the style- it doesn’t matter! What matters is whether those songs have the words that praises God- and helps us worship him while singing! Whether its old style hymns or new hillsong type songs is not the question. The question is whether you can relate to the song as you sing it and whether you can fully worship God by it. For me, I can relate to hillsong type songs better than high pitch hymns that I can’t sing. I love being able to open my mouth and shout out the praises to God in an energetic way! This is what we do in the church I go to! And God is surely pleased with our devotion to him – which is why he keep adding to our numbers. I think he sees that his people can grow in this church, so he blesses the church with more people… =)
Also, some Christians I’ve met in Japan and people in general, question about evangelism (actively telling people about God or inviting people to church)- They ask – why do it? Your faith is a personal thing. You don’t need to go tell others about it.
However, this is what the bible says about it:
For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[f] 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Romans 10:12-14)
If no one talks about their faith- if no one tells others about Jesus- how will they know? How will they find out? That’s why we are active in evangelism. I’ll make a more detailed post about this later and link it here. Please keep an eye out for that!
So before getting negative thoughts of another church that’s different from yours, because it has more numbers and do things more actively than the passive churches you maybe used to, or before worrying about different worship styles, I think its important to think of the values of the church – if the church believes in God the trinity, follows the bible, directs you towards Jesus as the only savior – then, I think that church should be okay =) This is my take on church: Church is not supposed to be just a once a week thing. Church is not supposed to be a building. It’s supposed to be a group of people who get together to praise God, worship him and love him as often as possible. A group of people who are DEVOTED and ACTIVE with their faith in following Jesus. People who support each other, encourage each other, tells others about God as Jesus commanded and apply Jesus’s teachings into their lives. Church is a group of people who are forever growing and striving to become the image of Christ.
So by all means, join an overflowing church! Read the bible! Have quality time with God! Worship him! Grow to become the awesome person God wants you to be! Take hold of the AWESOME plan God has for your life =))