5 things we can do better in church and in our faith

I was just reflecting a few nights ago. We normally like to criticise the church for its shortcomings, and that's probably what I am doing now. But can we talk about these shortcomings in a manner that is not 'critical' but instead be one that strives towards Christlikeness (save for the table flipping part although I think that will be quite cool). Here are five things which I think, as a Church, we can collectively do better:

Just being random with my meme
1. We can sing more biblically correct songs

One of those things that irk me a lot is that we sing songs that are either theologically questionable or biblically inaccurate. Here is one of those lyrics that I think we need to be careful about:
Through You,
I can do anything,
I can do all things,
For it’s You who give me strength,
Nothing is impossible
This part of the lyrics combine two very well-known verses in the New Testament: Matt 19:26 and Phil 4:13. One talks about God making salvation of man possible and the latter talks about finding strength in contentment. The two verses (let their power combined) came together to become a rather good 'feel-good' Christian self-help motivation song that can lead people to believe that we can really do 'all things' and 'anything.' I just somehow wonder if it is right for churches and congregations to sing all these songs without realising that most of the lay people do learn their theology partly through the songs they sing in church?

Maybe I should start dissecting the songs I normally sing in church and post the theological or biblical inconsistencies online. What do you all think?

2. We can learn to read the Bible more contextually

This particular challenge in the church is not something new. In fact, other Christian websites have talk about it. Take for example, Relevant Magazine has a post on 4 Bible verses that are so often quoted out of context. But this is not being anal over biblical accuracies but we need to train ourselves and equip our congregations to guard against teachers and preachers who may intentionally or unintentionally spread teachings which are not really taught by the Scripture simply because they are being interpreted incorrectly or out of context. 

One classic case that I can think about is Romans 7:15-20 - the tongue twister verses I call them. How many times we have heard well-meaning preachers quoting these verses to highlight the struggles that Christians have? But do you know that Paul was actually talking about non-Christian Jews who are still bonded by the law in this passage and most likely he is not actually talking about Christians in this passage? 

After much reflections, the one of the reasons why I think such misinterpretation can happen is because we index our Scripture today, which makes for easy reference but one side effect is that we start to read Scripture in chunks. When we do so, we start to miss out the literary context of the passages and start reading them as an isolated piece. Hence, the so-often quoted advice to read each book in the Bible (for study purpose) in one sitting. 

3. We can learn to pray in silence

This reflection comes in the wake of an unhappy incident that I experienced sometimes back. To cut the long story short, I think modern day Christians, especially for a lot of Pentecostal and Charismatic evangelicals, have lost the taste for silence, especially in public worship. We need to make noise, we need to be speaking and we cannot stand silence. So there's a tendency for stage ministers to keep making noises or keep praying in tongues or keep speaking. But the virtue of silence is so important, which I realise after a silent retreat last year. We can maybe do better in this area and learn to appreciate silence as a time when we wait upon God. We just need to be comfortable with silence.

4. We can endeavour to be less self-serving

By this, I mean we can be less consumeristic regarding our experience in church. We need to stop asking 'what's in it for me' when we go for service or lifegroup. A lot of times, it is not about us but about God. To caveat this, of course a lifeless lifegroup will make it difficult and perhaps demoralising for people to attend but to look from another dimension, I just wonder what will happen if we endeavour to serve one another in love, rather than be the 'suckers' who suck the love from people? Would the church then be a place where our needs will be met even while we are meeting other people's need?

5. We can be more grounded in our Christian heritage

This is one thing that also irked me a lot. In a recent gathering, I quoted the names of two of the most famous theologians from medieval times and no one in the gathering (and they are very matured Christians) knows about these two people. Yet, a lot of time, this is our heritage, regardless which denomination we are in right now. Our practices and beliefs do not come from a vacuum but from centuries of debates on how to make sense of the different doctrines. Hence, knowing some of these names and what they wrote can add so much more into our appreciation of our heritage. For Pentecostal Christians, I would even recommend Simon Chan's book on Pentecostal Theology and Christian Spiritual Tradition as a book that links our Pentecostal theology and historical spiritual traditions together to see how these can come together to provide more grounding to our beliefs.

So what are your thoughts? How can we continue to do better in our church and in terms of our own spiritual lives?


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