Bro Do You Even Lift?
You know which gym I’m talking about.
It’s the gym for people who don’t like going to the gym. This gym practically apologizes for being a gym. This gym doesn’t ask for much of your money, or much of your time. This gym discourages people from trying too hard – if you grunt or drop weights you’ll set off the “lunk alarm”! Free pizza and oreos are available once a week just in case you’re making too much progress. It’s the “judgment-free zone” – nobody is going to feel shamed for giving minimal effort. This gym is focused on getting people in the door, but not focused on getting you as strong as you can be. In fact, if you make progress in your fitness, it will be in spite of this gym’s emphasis, not because of it.
Compare this to a different type of gym that demands far more of your effort, far more money, far more energy, far more time. This gym takes fitness way too seriously. This gym uses weird terminology (WOD, PR, EMOM, AMRAP….it’s almost cultish!). This gym emphasizes community, holds you accountable, and notices if you’ve been absent. This gym welcomes newbies but doesn’t lower its standards for beginners.
My wife got involved in one of these “cultish” gyms a couple years ago. I was happy that she was enjoying it, but I had no interest in getting involved. Little by little, she persuaded me to go with her on occasion. It was intimidating – I didn’t understand the terminology, it was hard work, and everyone was in better shape than me. For a while I dreaded going to this gym. To ease my inferiority complex I poked fun at how seriously people took the workouts. At the same time……I couldn’t help but respect this gym. Why? Because I couldn’t deny the tangible growth taking place in those who committed themselves to this gym.
This article really isn’t about gyms and fitness.
Frankly, I respect and encourage anyone making an effort to stay active and healthy. If the “judgment-free zone” is helping you, that’s fantastic!
This article is actually about churches.
It’s interesting to me how many similarities there are between certain churches and the first gym I described. These are churches for people who don’t like going to church. These churches practically apologize for being a church. These churches may not ask for much of your money or time. These churches work so hard at being “judgment-free” that you may feel discouraged from desiring in-depth Bible study. You wouldn’t want to set off the spiritual “lunk alarm,” after all! Entertainment and fun are a big part of each worship service, to appeal to those giving minimal spiritual effort. This kind of church is focused on getting people in the door, but not focused on getting you as spiritually mature as you can be. In fact, if you make progress in your knowledge of God, it will be in spite of this church’s emphasis, not because of it.
Compare this to a different type of church that expects far more of your effort, far more giving, far more energy, far more time. These churches take spiritual growth very seriously. These churches use weird terminology (justification, sanctification, theology). This kind of church emphasizes community, holds you accountable, and notices if you’ve been absent. This church welcomes newbies but doesn’t lower its expectations for beginners.
If you get involved at one of these churches you may initially feel a bit intimidated. It may be difficult to catch on to everything going on. Your friends may poke fun at you for your interest in “serious Christianity.” However……it will be impossible for them to deny your tangible spiritual growth as you commit yourself to the Lord.
Friend, I don't care what kind of gym you're in. I care what kind of church you're in.
Commit your time, talents, energy, and focus in a church that is committed to your growth in Christ.
Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. (Colossians 1:28)
*A couple additional thoughts: These are general descriptions and do not 100% apply to every church in a certain category. Apply the "Cinderella principle" - if the shoe fits, wear it. Also, if you are happy with and thankful for the "serious" church you attend, praise God for that! But don't be like the annoying guy who thinks his gym is the only good gym :-) Just as there are no perfect Christians, there are no perfect churches, and we can all be thankful when God uses us despite our weakness.*