I am not good on many names in big market Christianity. I know I have loved Hillsongs worship for decades. A story about one of their worship leaders/songwriters being shaken in his faith was something that got my attention.
Marty Sampson is the latest in “big names” who have announced a shaking of their faith. Someone named Michael Frost (another name I don’t know) works on an answer to this dilemma in this post.
Sampson seems to have been shaken by the fall of significant leaders and other troubling issues. He claims no one talks about them. What may be his issue is this: no one in his setting talks about them.
Here is what IS true: no matter the setting, megachurch or small church, we too often don’t want to talk about these issues. But it is often harder to talk about tough questions in a megachurch setting. NOTE: I am not saying it is impossible.
There are some things I’ve noticed about the systems of megachurches over the years. They are built for growth. That takes a program. That program and system has an operating environment. That environment has a tolerance level, so to speak, of so many things it can handle. One of the tougher things to handle in that environment is someone questioning things. Whether it’s staff or just people coming in, if a tough question pops up that smacks of “disagreement”, the system often can’t handle it.
It doesn’t mean an environment like that can’t handle it. It just needs to be built in with great care.
One person I counseled awhile back struggled with Christianity. Their life had been in a megachurch. When they were looking to step back into church, it was a megachurch. I counseled, “You have too many questions for that. If that worship is your style and it reaches your heart, great. Go there. But get a Yoda as well.”
We all need a Yoda in our lives.
We need discipleship. We can go to a megachurch, but we need discipleship. We will hit tough questions and tough spots in our lives and we’re knocked for a loop. One more chorus of our favorite worship song isn’t going to cut it. We’ll find ourselves in a dark place with some dark questions and we need a Yoda in our lives who will be able to absorb those questions and walk with us through the dark place.
This isn’t really about “megachurches” or “small” churches. This is about healthy churches. Healthy churches need bandwidth for discipleship. Healthy churches will have a few Yodas around who have been through the battles, have the scars, and can take people in for a length of time to help them in their hard struggles. We need a Yoda in our lives who won’t let us off the hook. Sometimes we’ll ask a “tough question” just because we want someone to be stumped and we then have an excuse to walk away.
A Yoda won’t let us walk away. A Yoda will follow us and keep asking the tougher questions and sit with us in the dark. A Yoda will make us face our darkest enemy, which is sometimes… US.
It’s not that Marty Sampson is asking something “too tough” for the Church. He’s not asking something the Church, historically, hasn’t handled or can’t handle. It’s that he hasn’t asked a Yoda in his context. Or, maybe there isn’t a Yoda in his context. But in the Body of Christ, he can find one.
The constant need in every age and in every culture for the Church is discipleship. We need to stay with people on the journey. We don’t need to invite them to an event. We need to invite them to a LIFE.