Thursday, July 20, 2006

Church of Rote

Blind Leading The Blind

I was reading my daily Tozer devotional email today. It is included below. I got to the line "They want people to help them celebrate the rote and finally join in the rot" and was not sure what 'Rote" meant so I looked it up:

Rote (American Heritage Dictionary):

1. A memorizing process using routine or repetition, often without full attention or comprehension: learn by rote.
2. Mechanical routine.
Is that not the condition of the church? We do so much in the church out of obligation and routine without an understanding of why we do it or the significance or purpose of the thing that we are doing. After a few generations of doing the routine without understanding, it just becomes another religious duty that we faithfully do because "that's the way it has always been done". Then, without understanding of it's significance or purpose, we loose heart and become tired and weary of it.

How many of you can recite the Lord Prayer without even hearing the words? How many of you have a good answer for your kids when they ask "why do we go to church?" or "Why do we sing at church?" or any of those other questions that our young children have not been trained not to ask yet...

It's like when you are training for a new job and you ask the person why you do something and they say "I'm not sure, that's the way we have always done it". Even if it is the "correct way" of doing it, if you do not know why, then you are missing something. So then, as Tozer so eloquently put it, we ask the newcomers to "celebrate the rote and finally join in the rot".

No wonder so many have become "inoculated" to the church.

July 20

The Church: The Dry Rot of Nonexpectation

"...but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word."...Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
--Acts 6:4,7

The church is afflicted by dry rot. This is best explained when the psychology of nonexpectation takes over and spiritual rigidity sets in, which is an inability to visualize anything better, a lack of desire for improvement.

There are many who respond by arguing, "I know lots of evangelical churches that would like to grow, and they do their best to get the crowds in. They want to grow and have contests to make their Sunday school larger." That is true, but they are trying to get people to come and share their rut. They want people to help them celebrate the rote and finally join in the rot. Because the Holy Spirit is not
given a chance to work in our services, nobody is repenting, nobody is seeking God, nobody is spending a day in quiet waiting on God with open Bible seeking to mend his or her ways. Nobody is doing it-- we just want more people. But more people for what? More people to come and repeat our dead services without feeling, without meaning, without wonder, without surprise? More people to join us in the bondage to the rote? For the most part, spiritual rigidity that cannot bend is too weak to know just how weak it is. Rut, Rot or Revival: The Condition of the Church, 8,9.

"Lord, not more people, but more of You. Let me wait upon You, keep me faithful, send Your Holy Spirit. If You then send growth as well, I'll thank You and see it as an added blessing. Amen."

It's time to quit playing church, Church!

1 comment:

ruthrap said...

Sean, you are so right about this, I believe that although numbers are good, sincerity in believing and being humble unto the Lord are the most imporant attributes of faith, we need to stop "going through the motions and talking the talk" and start "walking the walk". Unless we are truly seeking the Lord in our worship, we are merely taking up space in a pew!