A few years ago I went with a group of friends to an outdoor concert festival. These kinds of concerts happen every summer around the country. They’re usually coordinated by the local rock station and bring in 10-12 hard rock bands to perform on multiple stages throughout the day. I had never been to one before, but knew plenty of people who had and knew what to expect. My friends on the other hand did not. They had never been to a secular concert before, let alone a festival like that. They were wholly unprepared for the drinking, crowd-surfing, mosh-pits, and nudity that occurred.
I love concerts and although none of the bands were ones I would have gone to individually, I was looking forward to a day hanging out with the guys and getting a good concert. However, the morning of the concert, instead of getting psyched up for what I hoped to be a good day of music, I spent two hours on the phone answering questions and explaining myself to individuals who felt that wasn’t the proper place for a Christian to be. While it didn’t deter me or the others from going and enjoying ourselves, we swore we wouldn’t talk about it with anyone outside our group since most of our friends went to our church. It just wasn’t worth worrying about what others would say, do, or think.
There are a lot of things that people feel are those gateway items to lead people into temptation and out of the church. Here are a few:
Movies – Growing up my dad was one who would never go to the cinema because of what other church members would say. So we would only go to the movies on vacation or just wait until the it came out on home video. Even then, we weren’t allowed to talk with our friends about the Chuck Norris movies we watched with dad because someone might think poorly of the pastor. Even though those movies or TV shows were perfectly fine for every other member of the church. Somehow, it was inappropriate for us. Even today as people have become slightly more open minded to those things, you have to be careful who you tell you watch Family Guy, Southpark, or Die Hard.
Music – When I was in elementary school there was a video called “Hells Bells” that showed you all the occult symbols and messages hidden in music from bands like Black Sabbath and Metallica. Electric guitars and drums were instruments of the devil and many churches today still will not let a drum set in the sanctuary. Good Christians listen to classical or christian music. And not the “Devil in sheep’s clothing” Christian Rock either. Heaven knows that if you listen to Stephen Curtis Chapman backwards you’ll open a portal for Satan.
Video Games – When I first got involved in youth ministry the big thing to do was play Halo. We could link several XBOX’s together and have whole groups playing together. That was until articles and sermon’s began to be preached about the evils of video games. They desensitized youth to violence and were the cause of such tragedies as the Columbine shootings. The result was that we moved from the youth room to the youth pastors house. Every kid who had an XBOX would come hang out there instead of at the church.
Now I’ll concede that any of those things and many more can be a stumbling block for a lot of people. They can become obsessed with them to the point that they no longer care about spiritual things. But simply put, there are a lot of petty Christian’s out there with nothing better to do than to point out all the things that you shouldn’t be doing. It’s nothing new. Jesus himself had to put up with those same people 2000 years ago. They judge each others level of godliness based on actions that are somewhat inconsequential. I’ve come to the point that none of those things are worth arguing over though. There were things that I did when I was younger that my grandmother was sure was going to lead us straight out of the church. Today, she couldn’t be prouder of my involvement in ministry. And with time, understanding, and an open mind people see it’s not the actions that push people out of church, it’s the people doing the judging that pushes them out.