Whatever has happened, will happen again; whatever has been done, will be done again. There is nothing new on earth.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 (ISV)
A few years ago, we bought a new car. It was wonderful! Shiny, clean, modern, and full of the latest features. It was a real upgrade on our previous vehicle. While my wife and I are not especially interested in cars, it was fun and exciting to have a brand new one. With four “free-range” children however, and a couple of years on, it’s not as shiny as it once was!
There is something amazing about new things, we all love to get something new! And I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with that. However, I think our expectation has now stretched into the church world also. If it’s not new or exciting, then we are perhaps not as interested as we ought to be.
Every Sunday we turn up to church and expect something new. A new worship song. A new cutting edge Bible message. A new sound system or lights or fog machine. A new children’s worker or youth ministry. A new experience. A new “move of God”. Just a new way of doing things.
Some even demand a new Gospel. One that doesn’t challenge or interfere. One that presents all the blessings with none of the commitment.
In this context, I’m convinced that “new” is not all that good at all.
Someone was once asked if they worried about the parts of the Bible they didn’t understand? Their response was telling. No, they said, I don’t worry about the bits I don’t understand, but the parts I do understand but don’t do.
How often are we seeking something new to learn, when we have not yet mastered what we’ve already been told?
A new minister started at a church and preached a wonderful message on the gospel of grace. People very much enjoyed it and congratulated him. The following week, he preached almost an identical message. One or two muttered to themselves – isn’t this what he said last week? Third week, the same again, preached an almost identical message. A few more noticed and complained among themselves. The fourth week, again he preached the same message on the gospel of grace. Finally the leadership team approached him and said – “Why are you preaching the same message over and over again? The people want something different!” He replied – “Once they understand and apply this message, I can move on to something else.”
Isn’t that true? Most of us can’t remember what last week’s sermon was about, yet we now want something new and improved. Wouldn’t it be better to master last week’s topic before moving on to something else?
Whatever we need, there’s a good chance we’ll need to hear it more than once. If you are anything like me, then God will need to draw you back to the same truth a number of times before it sinks in. To be honest, there are still some things God spoke to me about years ago that i am still dealing with today.
New is of course exciting and wonderful and fresh, but sometimes we need to dig into things we have heard multiple times before to really see change in our lives.
Going to church on a Sunday should not be about getting goosebumps and being entertained. Fun though it may be, what good will it do you later that week when facing a crisis? We need solid Biblical truths that will last, wisdom found in Scripture which will show us how to live and have a real positive impact.
Solomon, in Ecclesiastes quoted above, shows us that there is nothing new under the Sun. Whatever has been done, has been done before. This search for something new is indeed futile. God’s grace is sufficient!
Am I saying church should be dull? Far from it! Have you ever met the Holy Spirit? He’s the most exciting Person I’ve ever known! Just being around Him is exciting and energising.
Church should not be a place for us to catch up on our sleep, but nor should it be blown and tossed by every wind of popular culture.
When we seek to entertain, rather than sustain, we water down the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s communicate in different ways of course, but let us never hide or distort Christ for the sake of people having a good time.
Everything is a balance, and I don’t want you to think I’m saying the church should never change. We do need to reach our younger generation for they are the church of tomorrow. But we cannot do so by thinning out the truth.
If you currently find yourself bored with church, then seek the Lord and check your motivations. Are you bored because God has finished with you there and is leading you to move on? Or is it because you are looking to be entertained?
Not everything that is new is good. Seek God this week and ask Him what you really need. Perhaps a little of the old and faithful is just what you need.