I struggle.  I see the church sliding off the cliff and no one seems to really care.

All of you old folks remember the movie “Ordinary People.” It’s a very moving story and I gotta tell you cried as I watched it. Mary Tyler Moore’s family is falling apart … they are just going through the motions of life and they don’t do anything about it — they just let it fall apart.

We were in a rural community the other day and bumped into a local pastor’s wife. Their church is even outside of this small community, so they are really out in the sticks. I’m sure they have potluck once a month.

I asked her how things were at church and she told me they were, “Good!” That they were busy doing the things they do this time of year.  I’m not sure what that meant but in my experience it includes giving away a few turkeys, having that church Thanksgiving meal together, the hanging of the green, lighting a few Advent candles. I like tradition, I really do but in my extended family — family traditions ended up killing what we really were about.  

Traditions became what drove us, it made us exclusive and we became more about celebrating the celebration.

When I asked about how things were going at Mt. Zion Baptist Church (I know, you are getting a clearer image now) why didn’t I hear about spiritual things, things that Jesus has put His fingerprints on. Why didn’t I hear about discipleship, dinners with sinners, the lost being found … faithfulness is what I mean to say.  

I guess it is easier to hang up green stuff and light candles than be on mission … to actually follow the Rabbi and do what the Rabbi did (Luke 15:4) Radical grace requires radical faith according to Mark 8:34-38.  

If you grew up in the church you grew up singing, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.”  

Do we think the debt got paid with the most recent Wall Street bailout?  Why are we not spending adequate time in the harvest field, the way we spend large amounts of time in the holy huddle?

I like the guy in Mark 9:24. Maybe he is the most honest person recorded in Scripture … he says to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  We are all unbelievers in some way because if we believed we would be doing more than what tradition calls for. He told me to tell you that.

Ken Ansell is the pastor of Community Life Church in Waxahachie (www.communitylifechurch.tv). The church meets at 10:30 Sunday mornings at the Waxahachie Country Club.