It is absolutely amazing what all you can get as a package deal in these times. I went to a program in the last week or so which was be promoted by Eastern European Missions. In the meeting they told of a man preaching the gospel of Christ in Ukraine over their television each week.. Thousands of letters and information are sent out monthly in response to this great program. Ocassionally the speaker will invite people who are interested to meet him for a weekend at a resort on the Black Sea and around 2,000 people normally show up for the program. They sing, preach and study the Bible together. Many of them come from hundreds of miles away to hear the message of God. While there many of them give their lives to Christ and are baptized in the Black Sea. The most amazing part of the story happens next. They tell the people they need to go back home and launch congregations in their homes where people can come to worship and serve God together. They give them a packet of material that gives them songs they can learn and sing together, Bibles to hand out among the people, lesson plans to teach them the Bible, children’s lessons so they can teach the children about God and his will and material on how to conduct a worship doing the things God teaches us to do in the New Testament. They are given outlines of sermons they can preach to the people. Many actally launch churches when they are brand new Christians themselves. Last year over one hundred new churches were launched in Ukraine through this method.
Who would ever have thought of a prepackaged church to help ordinary Christians start new works for God before they learned that it required someone who was professionally trained for the job to pull something like starting a church off? This demonstrates that people are capable of doing far more than they ever imagine they can do. It is only when we get them into an educational environment of professionalism that they begin to learn that they really don’t know enough to do what needs to be done. All too often the ones teaching them what they can’t do are there as teachers because they tried making a living in the real world and found they couldn’t do so and have now returned to teach others what they can’t do.
If you can prepackage a church, I wonder what else you can prepackage? Now I do understand that church is about more than just doing the particular things that make up worship. Two people could say exactly the same things and have completely different results because of the one saying it and how they say it. I also know that when it comes to worship to God there is the God element that can’t ever be prepackaged. In I Corinthians 14 Paul described the gathering of Christians and tells of an unbeliever coming in to observe what was happening. He said if all were speaking in tongues the person would think they were a bunch of barbarians but if all prophesied he would be convicted by all and convinced by all. The person would fall on their face and declare “Surely God is among you.” That aspect of worship can never be packaged and delivered just by walking through a plan of action. Neither can you work up enough emotion to deliver the God aspect of worship. Sometimes we mistake emotion for spirituality.
I wonder if you could prepackage a marriage. Lots of people I know and love these days are struggling in their marriages. Some are calling it quits after being together for a good number of years. What would you put in that prepackaged marriage to make sure they held together? You could put a Bible in it to help them know how marriage began and what the purpose of marriage really is. But how could you be sure they would read it and that they would find the right things. Too many I know think the Bible is backing them up when they are headed in the exact opposite direction from what the Bible says. You could put in the package home devotionals and prayers for them to pray at the table, at bedtime and just as a family when they sat together. I don’t see how you could put Christian fellowship into the package. We need each other. Couples need friendships with other couples that share their faith in God and believe in marrage. Truthfully, you could prepackage a few of the things involved in the marriage, but the most fundamental parts of marriage that mean the most can’t be prepackaged. Things like love, devotion, care, commitment, attention and one flesh relationships can’t fit into a box. They all need to be demonstrated by one person committed to another in marriage.
Could you prepackage a good statesman? I’m sure we could box up a few hundred politicians. They seem to multiply like rabbits. The common mark of a politician is that they want to be elected so badly they are willing to lie, cheat or murder another person’s reputation to get elected. It is terribly sad that we have reached the time when you can’t believe anything said by a politician when they are running for office. I wish I could beleive that they were honest and just making mistakes in their judgments of others. I don’t believe that for a minute. What I know is that there is no excuse for it. If I had someway of mass producing a few honest politicians who could become real statesmen, I would be about the job immediately. But statesmen are people who believe in certain principles enough that they won’t compromise to get along.
Recently on a mission trip to Ukraine I was talking with a young man in college in Ukraine. He made the statement that there was no way the businesses in Ukraine would ever be able to do business with the different companies in the United States. I asked him why he thought that was the case. He said, “In America their businesses are run honestly. They don’t take bribes to get the job done. In Ukraine it has become the standard for businesses to demand a bribe all along the way to keep doing business.” I didn’t have an answer for the young man. I wished I could say to him, “you are right about businesses in America. They do opperate without bribes. The people are honest in their dealings.” But that would have been a lie.
You can’t prepackage intergrity. But anyone can be a person of integrity if they want to be. It requires making honesty a way of life at home, on the job, in church, in school and in every other aspect of your life. Honesty won’t fit into a box.