the wrong questions


The teenage girl came home from work. She was a little excited because a guy she never met before had asked her out. Little sister had been waiting for big sister so she had overheard the guy stumbling over his words to ask big sister to go to dinner and a movie. So little sister continued to listen in while concerned mom quizzed big sister about this guy.

‘Is he a Christian?’

‘Where’s he from?’

‘How old is he?’

‘Tell me about him?’

Little sister wanted to jump in and give her mom some assurance about the date-ability of this guy. So she blurted out, ‘It’s okay Mom. I saw him and he’s smokin’ hot!’

Mom was asking some decent questions but little sister’s criteria for date-worthiness asked only one question: is he good looking?

I think when it comes to things around church world, we can often ask the wrong questions. How many times has a kid come home from a children’s event or a teen thinger and the parent, no doubt, will ask them one of two questions, or usually both. And sometimes after an adult leave a worship service, they may not ask the questions out loud but I bet some people will be evaluating the event with these two questions somewhere in their minds. You know the questions because someone asked them of you or you asked them of someone or maybe because you use these questions to evaluate the success or failure of an event. Here’s the two questions:

1. Were there many there?

2. Did you have a good time?

Is there anything wrong with those questions in and of themselves? No. Is it a bad event just because a lot of people showed up? No. Is having a good time necessarily bad? No.

There was a lot of people when it came to the fledgling church in Acts.

[41] So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41-42 ESV)

[46] And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, [47] praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47 ESV)

[4] But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. (Acts 4:4 ESV)

But there was also a lot of people that showed up to hear Jesus teach followed by a miraculous meal:

[2] And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. (John 6:2 ESV)

[10] Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. (John 6:10 ESV)

[66] After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.
(John 6:66 ESV)

If I could over-simplify these two scenarios, God was greatly at work in Acts but it seemed that He was less at work at the feeding of the 5,000. Many eventually walked away. A large number in both scenarios.

Let’s think about the other question. Did you have a good time? A good time can mean different things to different people. A good time can mean did you have fun…did you take part in some interesting activities…did you leave feeling good about yourself…was the Word of God brought well…were you comforted or convicted by the Word…was the gospel, in some way, presented…

The better questions were the last three because of 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

[16] All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

A pastor moved to a new city to serve on staff at a church and he bumped into an old Christian friend who was part of a much bigger congregation. The old friend asked the pastor about the size of the church he was serving at. The pastor gave him the number and his friend’s response dumbfounded him. He said, ‘well that’s pretty good.’ I think they were using different tape measures to determine what ‘pretty good’ meant.

I have been to bigger church services where the Word was brought and with it came correction and repentance and comfort and joy and remorse and sorrow and hope and whatever else the text brought. The gospel was just so evident. I’ve experienced that in smaller groups as well. There are also big gatherings that get God all wrong and some smaller ones too.

I guess the reality is that whether it be a Sunday morning worship service, a youth night, a children’s event, or a evangelistic night designed for the unbeliever, we need to ask the right questions. And I’m not sure that:

1. Were there many there?

2. Did people have a good time?

are the right ones.








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