Last time we took a look at 2 issues that I fear are minimizing the church’s impact on the world. If there is one thing the church is meant to be it’s a light. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16
If you haven’t read Part 1 go HERE first to read it and then come back. Otherwise, let’s dive into problems 3-5 now.
3 – “Church” has become a consumer product.
Our culture is driven by stuff. iPhones. Cars. Clothes. Food. We love to consume the latest and greatest there is in every material category possible. Many people have treated Church as just another product out there. Leaders are spending big budgets and countless hours on making church appeal to the masses. Like the efforts that are put into getting people to love the latest technology, church leaders likewise are doing whatever it takes to get people to church. This has developed a culture of “church goers” who have different expectations for what church should be. Many Christians go to church to “get”. But the thing they are looking to get is far from sound biblical teaching. We need to get away from perpetuating this system of feel good consumption. Have you been guilty of analyzing a church based on the “product” they have to offer you? (Read John 6:25-40)
4 – We only want “Super-Pastors”
All across the nation the church is producing big name celebrities. Pastors who not only preach, travel, write books, teach seminars, but who are also international advocates and advisors in the political arena. This high expectation mentality translates to Joe Pastor in a small church too. He’s expected to be everything and everyone to his congregation; preacher, teacher, counselor, event coordinator, vision caster, comforter, “marryer and buryer”, and more. This perspective is not biblical and it’s dangerous. I believe that this pressure has led to much of the depression, burn-out, and moral failures we see in Pastors today. No human can ever be a “Super Pastor”. We are all flawed, weak, and needy. If we expect our Pastors to be perfect and meet a churches every need we only set ourselves up for disappointment. It breaks my heart to see so many Christians turning their backs, accusing, and judging a Pastor as he’s crumbling. We must use a wider spectrum of believers to fulfill the many jobs of the ministry and allow Pastors to be free to focus in on what they do best. Then we must chose a REAL grace, a grace that plans ahead to respond with compassion and faithful love before failure occurs. (Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
5 – We are skeptical of other Churches.
Whether it is a denominational or a locational thing – churches don’t always play nice with others. The most common church interaction in the last 50 year is not cooperation but competition. I have seen too many churches snub their noses at the programs and practices of nearby churches. I have experienced myself this distrust with the victories of other congregations. “That wasn’t really the work of the Holy Spirit”, we think. We chalk it off to overly emotional people or a hoax. We are hesitant to celebrate what fellow Christians get out of scripture. “They don’t interpret scripture correctly”, shouts the Dispensationalist, the Reformed, or the Emergent. We debate. We try and correct. We agree to disagree. We avoid. And through all this self-promoted conversation our attempts to preserve doctrine only lead to disunity. Isn’t God’s word and sovereignty to preserve His truth capable of using a plethora of cracked pots? (2 Corinthians 4:6-7)
Over the last 10 years I have had the pleasure of working with churches in 8 different countries. These churches ranged from Western Mega Churches to tiny indigenous-tribal churches. Each one of them looked different, sounded different, and thought different. And it was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful! I have learned that God delights in the unique variety of those who bear His image. Each assembly of believers had one thing in common, Jesus. He is the core ingredient in all of us who call ourselves the church. We are only connected because of Him. The church needs to find more common ground on the person and work of Jesus Christ and be willing to lay aside all that hinders us from holding forth the message of grace, hope, and eternal life.
“Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” – Philippians 2:15b-16
I believe the modern church must redirect quick if we want to be affective for the Kingdom of God in these last days. One solution: Let’s make The Gospel the main thing, the central thing, and the thing we are most passionate about!