A radio evangelist predicted the Rapture would come this past Saturday and nothing happened. Not surprising. Several major conditions weren’t meant: the Bible haven’t been preached to every living person in the world (about seven billion or so) and Christians had to be feared, hated and put to death for who they are (except for China and the Middle East, this isn’t happening at all). Then the rapture will happen—or maybe not. Having survived the Y2K Rapture in 2000 and 2001, I’m skeptical whenever a religious authority or some other nut job proclaims the end of the world.
I was part of a church that spent nearly 30 years putting a church in every major city in every country of the world by the year 2000, which it did by planting over a hundred international churches during that time. Now everyone in the fellowship assumed that the Rapture would happen. The founder of the church made no Monty Python-esque ass trumpeting announcements of what would happen on January 1, 2000. What did happen? Nothing. Everything came and went as it usually does after the disco ball drops on Time Square in New York City. Not even the Y2K bug turned out to be that much of a big deal. Perhaps it was the wrong date since the new millennium didn’t start until January 1, 2001. A year later, nothing happened.
I noticed that the church message went from “being faithful to the end” to “being faithful to the end of your lifetime” a few months later. After 30 years of sacrificing to put a church in every major city of the world, the new message meant that the fellowship would have to continue sacrificing for another 30 or 40 years until they die. Some members didn’t like that. If the Rapture didn’t happen at the Millennium, it would never happen in their lifetime.
Wasn’t long before the church founder was tossed out by the narcissistic baby boomers who made up the church leadership. If he couldn’t deliver the Rapture (never mind that he never promised anyone the Rapture), he had no business leading the church. These 100 church plantings were soon torn apart by the infighting as the leadership couldn’t decide who among themselves was worthy enough to be the anointed one to lead God’s people, forming regional churches that no longer wanted to associate with each other and take up the cause to preach the Gospel to the world.
After 13 years of being in the church, and nearly six years of being out of the church, I have grown cynical about organized religion. Too often the leadership becomes committed to serving itself rather than meeting the needs of the fellowship. As one young minister told me on my last day with the church, the leadership had far more important priorities then helping me do well spiritually and left in a hurry to fetch a video projector for the lead evangelist. God knows that the salvation of that video projector was far more important. I had always considered the Rapture and/or Judgment Day to to be something of a crapshoot: you either roll a 7 or 11, or pull up snake-eyes. That never did sat well with the leadership. Then again, they never did like people who could make lemonade out of the lemons that God handed out in life with surprising regularity.