I have a pair of clear glass bookends shaped like seals balancing a ball on their noses. They were from my grandparent's depression era glass collection. When I was younger I was impressed by the smoothness of these weighty statues. They less detailed than you might think and look more like 3D silhouettes as you look at them. I have carried them with each move I have made and presently they sit on book selves in my joint office.
I cherish these bookends. Some might look at them and see rather plane glass seals and they have some dollar value to collectors but to the average person, they are hunks of glass. To me however, they have sentimental value.
Often times, I confuse Love and sentimentality. When I look at the seals I remember the Love my grandparents and I share, and I think that if I throw those seals away the Love would go away with them. So I hold onto those seals in an attempt to hold onto the Love.
But the truth of the matter is, sentimentality is not Love. Well, let me rephrase that, it is love but it is self love.
Those things that have sentimental value mean that they only have value to the individual. And that individual values them because it reminds them of something that is unique to themselves.
It seems to me that the reason the church is "irrelevant" is not because the church is not doing relevant things. Heck there are still people going and joining churches all around. So it is relevant for some people. But there in lies my point.
As long as we choose a church based upon our own preferences and styles rather than choose a church that we can serve, then the church confuses Love with sentimentality.
What is really hurting the church is not the Love we have, it is the sentimentality we have.
The glass seal bookends in my office seem irrelevant to anyone who knows that I own more digital books than paper books. The only reason I keep them is because they have sentimental value. That is I love the feeling and memories they invoke in me.
As long as the church loves the feelings we get when we attend church more than we love the God for whom we worship, then the church confuses Love with sentimentality.
As long as we take more delight in the personal benefits of attending church rather than the delight in being a child of God, then the church confuses Love with sentimentality.