Monday, December 11, 2017

Litmus Test Questions

I pastor a small church.

Small churches want visitors. Heck, we want more than visitors, we want people who will show up and stick. Stickers, that's what we want.

But not just any sticker. There's a category of folks I will gladly pass on to the next church they visit.

I call them litmus test people.

See, every now and then we get folks who drop in for worship or bible study, but afterward they have a list of topics they want to cover with me.

Or I'll get an email or phone call from someone with a bunch of questions about what we believe.

Litmus test questions. And no matter how we answer them, we always fail the test.

That's the nature of such questions. Bottom line, the person posing litmus test questions is almost always looking for ways to disqualify you from their list.

* Do you believe in a literal six-day creation?
* How old is the earth? Was Noah's flood universal?
* Are you a premillennialist? A pre-trib premillennialist?
* Do you preach from the King James? Aren't all other translations hereritical?
* What do you believe about women in ministry? Is the husband the head of the wife?
* What are we going to do about all these gays and transgender marches and such?
* And on and on it goes.

This is where I'll probably lose a good chunk of you.

My answer to these questions is that I can't answer them. Not in five minutes anyway. Which is more time than what the person asking me is actually willing to give me.

By and large, litmust test people want a thirty second response that mimics their predetermined correct answer. The moment I go off script...WRONG!

It's like I'm on the Gong Show and got the boot.

So I don't even try anymore. I usually cut straight to the heart of the matter: "You know, I appreciate your questions, but our church probably isn't for you."

Don't even address their questions. Why? Because they aren't interested in answers or nuance or discussion. They want to disqualify you. I save them the hassle.

Now, that being said, we do want visitors who turn into stickers. And over the past few months we've had a few of those types of folks join us at Faith Renewal. And they are a joy!

They are a joy because they show up wanting to worship. They show up wanting to know Jesus better. They show up knowing we are all broken but believe broken together in a faith community is better than broken alone.

Sure, they have questions. And questions are great. But they also know there are sometimes no easy answers. That when we work on the answers together we get to know God better, better than when we come to church with everything already figured out.

So if you're a litmus test person, know that you are welcome at our church. But also figure we might not be the kind of church you're looking for. We have answers, sure. Jesus is the way, the truth, the life.

But we want to be worshipers first. Laying aside our own agendas so we can submit to God's.

See you at worship this Sunday? If not, there's another church just down the street...

(Note: image is from pixabay, chapel-2980025_640, used by permission.)