“There was a time in the church's life when people were killed for stating or symbolizing their allegiance to another lord besides Caesar. One can understand why some would flinch and stick their cross necklace under their toga, or meet secretly in places (like catacombs) bereft of Christian symbols. Caesar had no patience with people whom he suspected served another. And yet most did not flinch, and most continued to affirm in word and symbol the church's earliest creed: Jesus is Lord.”
“Today, when there is no risk to symbolizing one's allegiance to another Lord besides Capitalism or Democracy or America, why are we so hesitant to do so? Why is it that in the one place where we have the right and opportunity to proclaim the Lord of the kingdom of heaven, so many of us want to make it a place that is "conducive to secular events"?”The most immediate response might be that our economic times being what they are a church is just being a wise steward of its resources if it can make a building available for other functions and recoup some of its cost for the facility. That being said I think some churches that are so lacking in anything distinctively Christian can foster a mindset that it is a place really no different from the shopping mall or a high school gymnasium. I’ve watched families put out a veritable picnic for their children to keep them entertained (no kidding--juice drinks, bananas, granola bars etc). Can we not abstain from eating or drinking for one hour? The focus has become primarily making people feel relaxed and comfortable during worship instead of fostering a sense of awe because we are uniquely in the presence of God. When I visited a local Orthodox church he commented how for the Orthodox it is important that all of the senses are impacted in worship (sight, sound and smell). He asked me, “Why are Protestants so comfortable meeting in a gymnasium?” His question was an honest one. I realized that as I looked around my eyes saw one reminder after another of the glory of the Lord.
Now I know there is nothing wrong with being comfortable and we should be. But comfort can quickly become casual and commonplace. When I visit churches I have to admit that the older churches create an entirely different mood in me. I know that even the most ornate churches can become commonplace to those who frequent them week after week but I still sense a difference. Yeah, it’s just a building. But it’s a building built first and foremost to the honor and glory of the Lord.