If I were trying to build a congregation, I would avoid Matthew 5 at all costs. In fact, I think I'd provide Bibles to the congregation that omitted it all together. It's just to counter-intuitive to the way we think, to the way we live, and to the way we preach.
I came of ministry-age in a time when the way to grow your crowd was to figure out what they wanted to be told and find a way to tell them, mixing in a little Jesus language and perhaps appealing to their legitimate, God-given desire to make an impact by offering them a volunteer position that would serve to keep the machine running. Our battlecry was "make us relevant", which we entireley assumed meant "make us cool".
Recently, I read a chapter form a book by Peter Tsukihira. He was relaying the story of living in Israel during the first Gulf War. His family lived with the daily fear of being hit by Scud Missles fired from Iraq. They had taped off a room with plastic sheets and each had a gas mask. They knew where they were in relation to their gas mask at any given time. It struck me how relevant that mask was to their lives...and yet no one in their right mind would have described it as cool.
Having mistaken relevance for good music and coffee-drinking think-tank sessions, we have jacked-up our definition of relevant to the point where it's not remotely biblical. What we're doing now is only relevant in the best of times. Scripture, history and common sense beg us to realize that the best of times change on a dime.
Back to pesky Matthew 5.
Matthew 5:4 "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." Having seen this passage applied only to families at the graveside, I think we're missing something. What if it's time for all of us to mourn? Could it be that it's time for that?
We love the Ecclesiastes quote about it being a time to dance. Children of the 80's cheered when Kevin Bacon told us that. But what about the rest of that passage?
Ecc 3:4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance...
Maybe it is time to mourn. Maybe it is time to fast. Even if it's not time yet, it will be soon. We might want to go into this with a little practice.