In my circles, very rarely did I hear the full-blown “God told me to do this” account that was more prevalent in charismatic or pentecostal churches. Still, that was the impression, even in our more theologically conservative groups. Whether it was defining a preaching series, implementing an element of worship that the pastor thought the church should practice, organizing an outreach program, expanding staff, building new facilities, using a certain method of teaching or training in the educational program or youth group, or designing the way the church should be overseen by its leaders, these ministers had a way of making it sound like these were directives from God himself. And the corollary to that, of course, was – if you are a truly dedicated, committed Christian, you will participate.As some of the readers of this blog know, I am a fan of the San Francisco Giants baseball team. Their colors are orange and black. A promotion the team has put forth over the last several years in known as "Orange Friday." Each Friday home game, the Giants wear orange jerseys and the fans are encouraged to wear orange articles of clothing or accessories. Bright orange Afros, painted faces, you name it.
Over and over again, I watched as the pastor’s agenda became the church’s agenda, because the pastor was able to persuade people that it was God’s agenda.
While a good number of fans take part in this, many, like me, are content to dress just the way I would at any other game. And even though I'm not much of a fan of these type of fads, I am content with thousands of other fans wearing orange. Even though it is an official promotion, my lack of participation doesn't provoke others to wonder why I'm not participating in the way they are. I've never been asked why, nor have I felt the expectation to wear orange.
Can the same be said of how our churches view our participation? What if I use some other book on child rearing? Or maybe none at all? What if I never listen to sermons of the pastor's favorite preacher? What if I want to have my kids with me in the service as opposed to in Sunday school? What if I prefer to invite other people over to my house for lunch instead of signing up for the church program that places people on a list to come over to my house for lunch? Is it OK to just be a Christian? I hope so.