Real. Comfortable. Church. That was the billboard that overlooked the highway cutting through Knoxville for quite a while. The picture of a couch behind these words made the meaning clear – we want you to be as relaxed as possible while worshipping the King of kings.
A culture of informality has swept over this nation. Casual Fridays are now the norm in many areas – I still hesitate to sign over my hard earned check to a bank teller that is dressed down. At a local eatery that I frequent, I routinely see men and women dressed in what must be pajamas coming in to get breakfast. Customer service agents call me by my first name without asking permission. It seems that at times we are working very hard to break down the structures of civilization – all in the name of being comfortable.
This informality has spilled over into our churches. Dress for church was a special thing – our Sunday best. A tie at the least, a tie AND jacket would be preferred. Women were also tastefully and modestly dressed. The overall goal of Sunday clothes was not to show off what we have – but to put on the best garments for the formal worship of our Creator. Jackets and ties now are often the exception in our houses of worship. The standard attire for Sunday mornings is now polo shirts and pants (or shorts) for the men and comfortable (and often very revealing) dress for the women. Pastors have left their robes in the closet, and now preach in jeans and golf shirts.
Back to the billboard. In order to be theologically correct, they should have tagged on this warning: “Choose Two.” A Real Church cannot be comfortable – as the Word of God rightly preached often convicts to the very soul. A Comfortable Church is not real – as it will never address the issues that face faith and life in a biblical and fruitful way. As for being Real Comfortable – staying at home on the couch is where we would find that.
What we need is a true revival in our churches. A revival of spirit – so we may correctly and faithfully follow the Holy Spirit in all that we do. We need a revival of purpose – so that we may carry out Christ’s command. We need a revival in community – for only together can we hold each other accountable. And a revival of attitude – for we are saved by grace by none other than the King of kings and Lord of lords. In that, and not in our pursuit of the informal, may we find our comfort.