the weblog of Alan Knox

The Church that Gathers at McDonalds

Posted by on Jun 14, 2013 in gathering, guest blogger | 15 comments

The Church that Gathers at McDonalds

Yesterday, a commenter named Carlos left a comment on my post “But what do you do when you get together with the church.” While I know that God is not leading everyone to make the exact same decisions that Carlos is making, I love the heart of his comment. So, I wanted to share it to a wider audience (i.e., I’m hoping more people will read this post than would read that comment).

While there are several parts of Carlos’ comment that I appreciate, I really love what he says toward the end about “talk.” My favorite times of gathering with my brothers and sisters in Christ is when we get together to serve someone.

Anyway, here is Carlos’ comment:

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You seem to have a real good grasp of what church is supposed to be Alan. I wholeheartedly want to encourage you to continue being a voice for truth in this area through your blog. God knows how much voices like yours need to be heard.

I myself have entirely ceased to “go” to Sunday services. I’ve had enough. If I never step into another “church” foyer as long as I live that will be just fine by me and as far as I can tell just fine with the Lord.

Instead I have decided before the Lord to begin reaching out to others through my natural relationships, through flyers, or whatever other means I can where I live (San Diego) to gather anyone interested in discussing what the Lord meant church to be at a local McDonald’s.

The Lord has led one Christian to join me for discussions and although we have only met once so far, it was very good (we’re meeting again tomorrow morning). My prayer and hope is that others might come out of the woodwork to join us.

I do wonder sometimes how effective this is going to be as most Christians are in churches already. I mean the Sunday thing type of church.

As such I would think that most will not want to go discussing things at a McDonald’s with others. I mean church for them is this convenient thing that happens on Sundays. Something many are quite content with.

Still… I am hoping that there are some, somewhere that are disappointed with church as it is, read about a different practice of church in the New Testament, and want more of what they read than what they have experienced of Christ in the church in North America.

You know one thing the Lord has laid on my heart these last few days is how greatly lacking in real love so-called Christians really are. I mean probably 95% of what happens “in” church (i.e. the building connected activities) is…well…TALK.

Nothing but TALK. Sermon talk. Singing talk. Home fellowship talking. Bible study talk. Prayer meeting talk. Talk, talk, talk.

I know people who are in need all over the place! One man I know has lung cancer, diabetes, hepetitus C, doesn’t have car insurance, lives in his car. The cops have told him he can’t stay in the parking lot he was in (a church parking lot no less!).

He is dying and literally has no resources and no place to simply park or even take a consistent shower.

And where are the so-called Christians?

In their buildings having a good ol time. Makes me sick.

The Lord has enabled me to be a wonderful testimony to him and to befriend him but I have no resources to speak of to be able to help him (I sleep in a tent myself – long story).

I know no Christians who would even let him park in their driveways until he dies!

Sick.

Anyway…yeah. I am all for being the Body of Christ in this world alongside others. People can keep their Sunday churchy thing. I don’t want anything to do with it anymore.
Carlos


15 Comments

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  1. 6-14-2013

    Reminds me of something I heard say years ago.

    “How many study Bibles do I have to mark up before I begin to live what I am learning in my everyday life?”

    As a retired “talker” I am learning to be the church rather than just “go to church”.

    Thanks again Alan for putting in words what so many of us sense in our hearts about being the church.

    God bless you Carlos for your labor of love.

  2. 6-14-2013

    Loved reading this

  3. 6-14-2013

    Carlos, if you are living in a tent, then you likely are living among others who also are living in tents. We have pockets of “homeless” communities in our county, and have seen them organize into fellowships. Generally, all it takes is someone willing to invite themselves over to share a meal or some refreshments with folks living in a cluster of tents. That someone often is living in a tent and homeless.

    Forget the “churched”. Go to those who are hungry for the Lord, because they have gotten to the end of themselves. You will find amazing fellowship there. Have the faith to meet with them, eat with them, pray powerful prayers with them, and talk about the Lord together. Sing and read favorite verses together, and enjoy the Lord among you.

    We have many in our fellowships who came to the Lord this way, and first found Christ-focused community in the woods.

    If I mis-interpreted your situation, I apologize. But if I was desperate for fellowship and it wasn’t happening among “polite” society, that’s where I’d go even if I was not living in the woods. Seriously.

    Isn’t that the lesson of the rich ruler who threw a feast, but none of the respectable people came? So who did he dine with?

    This is not theoretical with us. We see this all the time, and it is part of our spiritual DNA. We go to those who are hungry, and stop wasting time with the self-content. And we find them in the places no one else wants to go.

  4. 6-14-2013

    Thanks for reposting this challenging encouragement, Alan.

    Reminding me again…. GO work out those love muscles!

    You both are right…..the tradition IS mostly talk talk talk talk talk……. but I think it’s ironic….because even though there’s so much talk talk talk talk talk……..nobody is REALLY talking.

    I think we need more real talking to start….I think we need it more than almost anything else.

  5. 6-15-2013

    Alan, the thing I struggle with most in the IC (our church, more specifically) is that we have the “love one anothers” down to a certain degree. People help one another, reach out, there are some healthy relationships to be sure.
    What i struggle most with is the worship service. The passive experience we call, “worship”. Especially the fundamentalist nature of the preaching and teaching, the sense that no matter what I do, I need to be on constant guard, examining my heart and motives: am I doing enough, reading the Word enough, praying enough… Bottom line, I am NEVER enough (well, duh! That’s why I have Jesus! He IS enough!!!). This is a big part of my discontent at “church”.
    The passive nature of the service makes my heart sink. I want to join in edifying one another, but the only venue for that is Sunday School. Even still, the teacher has a set agenda and pushes the discussion along at a certain clip. It is always the same people who teach, always. And again, the same theme crops up, how unworthy I am in light of Christ’s sacrifice. I should be grateful that God had mercy on me, I need to strive harder to please Him… Self flagellation seems to be the order of the day.
    Don’t even get me started on the music, I have heard funeral dirges with more pep…
    As I said before, there is a sense of the “one anothers” among the congregation, and yet little involvement in each other’s lives. I am always left with a sense of unrequited love when I am standing around making small talk after service. Unless I am involved in church “activities” (bible studies, AWANA, etc…) I am out of the loop. Frankly, I do not have time for those activities because I have a large family, we homeschool, and what little free time I have I prefer to spend visiting my friends (the majority of which are too busy because they are involved with church activities (!) as well as their own family activities). I have been “plugged in” in the past, but the relationships that were built around those activities remain dependent on my staying “involved”.
    I could go on and on and on. I don’t feel like I’ve expressed myself as well as I could. The bottom line: I feel like I am being smothered every time I enter the church building, that the Veil is firmly held in place. My hubby wants to continue to attend, he understands my issues to a certain degree. I try to go with a good attitude, but my discontent is not going anywhere and it is getting more difficult (to keep my mouth shut)…
    (For the record, I do have sweet fellowship with my mom and a few friends who feel the same way I do. I see these people regularly, as time permits. We desire to spend time together, we love one another and care for one another.)
    Thoughts, questions, or smart remarks are welcome…

  6. 6-15-2013

    Genoise, you are not alone! Many of us feel the way you do! It’s pretty heartbreaking that folks can go to the Sunday event hear, sing and talk about knowing God and yet demonstrate so little enthusiasm in the process. Everyone seems to think that the ‘event’ is just what we have to do, they’d feel so totally ‘weird and disoriented’ without it. All the while knowing that its not supposed to be this way, that there has to be something more! I know because I was one of them. But God is stirring the hearts of those who will listen. I see big changes and a veritable floodgate of more folks everyday who are no longer content with the status quo. Oh yes! Big change is coming and will be unstoppable because God can’t be stopped!

    Our job is the same– know God, listen to His voice, Obey! It will have more to do with you and those who are around you at hand. It always has.

  7. 6-15-2013

    This post (from a comment) and these comments prove once again that some awesome people read and comment on my blog. Thank you all!

    -Alan

  8. 6-15-2013

    Lots of talk…no communicating.
    Lots of talk…little to no action.

    William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army) had a vision of people struggling and drowning in water. There were people on a pier, doing all different things. Some were complaining that had those folks been more careful, they wouldn’t have found themselves in such a situation. Others, formed committees to discuss how to handle the problem. Yet, a few others would jump in, at their own risk, and pull whoever they could to safety.

    This is only a brief synopsis of his vision, but I think the point is clear…we can “go to church” or “be the Church”.

    A friend and I have been working on a small series of blogs about women in the Church (2btrue.wordpress.com – title is Equality…or Equity and we are up to part 6…if anyone is interested). We have been texting, Facebook chatting and emailing for a number of weeks over this and other things. During one chat, I told him that I was tired of being a Christian.

    Now, that would get a head to turn, but my friend, Mike, said he completely understood. It was about getting away from the dogmas, doctrines and traditions that have made Christianity a religion, rather than a collections of people whose hearts and minds were set on following Jesus, who embrace the truths of scripture rather than the counterfeit doctrines of men.

    I would not tell anyone to get out of their church (unless it was really quite bad), but I will always encourage that people be sure that they are embracing what God (really) led men to write down – scripture – as well as listen to what the Lord has to say, and follow His lead by what He says and according to the examples we see of Jesus in scripture.

  9. 6-15-2013

    Wait a minute…found it online. Ah, technology. This paints a better picture than me scraping from my memory of what I read more than 30 years ago.

    http://www.whatsaiththescripture.com/Stories/A.Vision.of.the.Lost.html

  10. 6-16-2013

    Thanks very much Alan for your graciousness in calling attention to what I said. On the one hand I am very glad that you did as I think the church needs a wake up call when so many in need all over the place are not helped (but will readily be invited to “go” to church) but on the other hand it struck me as incredibly sad that my comments were considered worthy of note in view of the sad state of the church.

    Yesterday I got together at McDonald’s with the Christian I did the other day. Only this time he brought a couple of others with him :).

    Wasn’t quite what I had in mind but it was still good. It also wasn’t any kind of formal get together to read the bible or anything. Just a get together as friends.

    He brought an Eastern mystic guru sort of person and a Mexican steeped in the Catholic church who had encountered typical Protestanism all over the place in the U.S. and was wondering what to believe. Of course my friend also had his share of surprises to throw my way too as I was rather surprised to see him tottering between belief in Christ and belief in Islam (he supposedly became a Christian just recently when he encountered a beautiful Christian girl he fell in “love” with).

    And just before our get together at one table…a friend (well I call him a friend but he is not exactly that though he would say we are) who is a rabid atheist got into me for being a fool for wanting to keep my word to the Dean of the Sports Department to stay out of recycle garbage cans on campus (I collect bottles and cans to make ends meet currently). I mean he railed into me big time in no uncertain terms over what in his mind is nonsense. Trying to live by a clean conscience before God and man.

    All in all it reminded me in some ways of how it must have been with Jesus out in the marketplace.

    I mean I am no Jesus. Not even infitismally close. What I mean is in the sense that Jesus experienced the brunt of the public wherever He went.

    Some called Him a fool. Some said he was demon possessed. Some questioned on what basis He believed what He believed and did what He did.

    The guru, my “Christian” friend, and the uncertain one all freely questioned my Christian faith and the exclusive way to God spoken by Jesus of Himself. We talked about a lot of different such issues.

    I think I did okay but on later reflection I wondered how Jesus would have answered such things.

    I think He would have said to my friends to believe in Him based on the works that He did. Healing the sick. Raising the dead. Casting out demons and proclaiming the Gospel to the poor.

    Sadly I cannot claim to be doing any of that. Though the New Testament Christians seem to have had a healthy dose of such things as attesting miracles to support their claim to having the truth.

    Acts 4:29-30 (AKJV)

    “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant to your servants, that with all boldness they may speak your word, By stretching forth your hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of your holy child Jesus.”

    I wish I knew how to trust the Lord for such things.

    Like most in North America (unlike some in third world countries) I remain impotent and seemingly unable to see the kind of attesting miracles through my life that allowed the New Testament Christians to boldly proclaim the truth and turn their world upside down.

    Still…I am learning and hope to do better next time in some of the the things I said. Among other things I need to confront my friend to chose between Christ and Islam once for all and to not go along with the flow of whoever he is hanging around.

    You know there is such a difference between the way Jesus taught and the way pastors teach today. Jesus never taught in an environment where He could not be interrupted or questioned for one. Makes you wonder about today’s classroom style teaching within the church.

    Jim…regarding what you said about fellowship among the homeless. That’s an intriguing idea Jim and I appreciate your comment.

    However, although I have indeed lived among other tented homeless in the past, I no longer do so. I am very isolated from other homeless. The nearest one’s are a mile away and I have had dealings with both that make it very improbable that any kind of further contact would prove beneficial or would take a HUGE amount of time and not prove very efficient when there are so very many others who would be more open perhaps.

    That’s not to say that I have no contact with other homeless. I know many and have favorable contact with almost all the one’s I know. I go to some of the same feeds they do and am in weekly contact with a number.

    You know it’s funny. One homeless dude who prides himself on being a devout Catholic is trying to convert me while I of course am hoping and praying for wisdom to persuade him to come into true relationship with Christ.

    Another dude who comes to the feeds is always telling me how ridiculous the Christians are (he is an atheist as well). He almost never ceases to have some joke about the Christians. But him and I are on friendly terms and he’s actually quite a nice guy. Has even invited me to take showers at his place and come watch sports with him. He isn’t homeless.

    Then there’s the Unitarian Universalist who is dying of cancer. Me and him have had some pretty passionate conversations.

    I know all these people and more but generally speaking they are very hardened to the Gospel. They’ve heard it all before and are really hardened to it. I try and love them regardless but what I mean to say is that there is no real fellowship possible with most of them.

    Regardless I have no bus pass, no car, not even a bicycle so my best best is simply to focus on continuing to start something locally at the local McDonald’s.

    I wish other Christians were willing to get out of their buildings and come join me in ministry for I could expand to other contacts and then go with them and immerse myself in laboring in the lives of others (as I have done at different points in time when more connected to Christians but alas those times have often not worked out in the long run – and no for any reading this it’s not because I gots issues or some such nonsense…it’s mainly because my eyes are on what the Word talks about with respect to being the church vs the building and programs thing and the inevitable conflict that happens between the two).

    The only choice I have is to trust the Lord to do something in and through me right where I am for now.

    Still…I may start praying for others that get together at that feed twice a week (there are a lot more than just my “buddies” that go there) that is within walking distance of me. I know the staff there real well and I don’t think they would be adverse to that. We’ll see.

    If any of you are led to do so please keep me in your prayers. I want more than anything to have the Lord use me.

    Thanks again Alan for your graciousness in having a post on your blog be about my comment. I’ve never had anyone do that before. It’s rather humbling.

    Carlos

  11. 6-17-2013

    Carlos,

    You are in my prayers. You are living your calling in the world immediately around you and probably doing it better than I. Your words are an inspiration.

  12. 6-17-2013

    Thanks again for the comments everyone… and especially thanks to you, Carlos, for replying here.

    -Alan

  13. 7-9-2013

    The Church is under attack by the evil one but we still must fellowship with fellow Christians no matter how much we detest the church system. The LORD will always lead His own right because we hear His voice and follow Him. Keep your mind on Jesus always and you will be fine. Remember, whenever two or three are g athered in my Name, there I am in their midst. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, they shall be filled (Matthew 5:6).

  14. 7-9-2013

    I generally agree with you Etafo but many church goers mistakenly assume that if you are not entering some churchy building on Sundays to hear a sermon that you are not in fellowship.

    I have fellowship with Christians every week. It’s usually not the superficial baloney that most often happens inside church buildings either.

    I am talking about getting real and vulnerable with each other. Speaking about things that really matter in our lives and not just intellectually discussing the finer points of doctrinal truth espoused upon through the last Sunday sermon we may have heard (there’s nothing wrong with discussing doctrine but when such discussion has little to no effect in helping us become more Christlike in some way in our daily lives its nothing but religious hot air).

    Carlos

  15. 7-12-2013

    Etafo and Carlos,

    You’re discussing the balance between loving and fellowshiping and discipling one another (God’s people) while staying away from (or ignoring) the man-made systems that often distract us from these tasks. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to separate from the church (i.e., the people) from the organizations and systems.

    -Alan