Was God there—or not? It depends on whom you ask.
We love to ask that question. Every week we see regular people walk in off the street to engage in the stories and conversation at Lifetree Café locations across the country. The topics dig in to popular life issues—from loneliness to UFOs. The conversation always somehow turns to God.
At the conclusion of the hour, we ask participants to rate their experience on comment cards. Invariably, almost all the “regular” people report they experienced God during the hour. Sometimes we see visiting paid ministry people in attendance. But, significantly fewer of them report that they experience God.
Why the marked difference? Everyone experienced the same event. Some had a “God sighting.” Some (many of the “professional Christians”) didn’t.
Contrast these findings with research from George Barna, who asked church-goers about their experience at weekly worship services. “Most of those in attendance say they did not experience the presence of God during the service.” Hmmm. They come to a “worship” service and don’t experience God. I wonder how paid ministry people would answer Barna’s question about their own worship services.
Could it be that we “professional Christians” have become so conditioned that unless everyone follows the current worship ritual of half sing-along and half preaching, we don’t think God shows up?
Have we become so calloused that we can’t see the wonder of God in everyday things? Are we so professional that we cannot see God revealed through everyday non-professional followers who also have a story to tell? Have the routines of our profession anesthetized us from recognizing the very presence of God in our lives?
Open our eyes, Lord.