What’s Wrong With The Church?
When Last We Met
When last we met, we asked, “What is wrong with the Church these days?” I, for one, have pondered this question quite a bit and my internal conversation is an ongoing adventure. What follows are some of the highlight’s of my personal ponderings.
What the Problem Is Not
It’s not the music. When you come to think of it, music preferences are simply that; preferences. Music that may be a distraction to one person may be exactly what another person needs to come to an attitude of worship and vice versa, The same can be said for the size of the church. Some people like large churches, while some people are more comfortable in a small church setting. It’s as simple as that. Nor is the problem preaching styles. Preaching styles just naturally differ.
If Christianity is predominantly about believers’ relationships with Christ, then stylistic differences are a necessary part of the Church as a whole. People are different and they relate to one another differently. If, due to our sundry personalities, we interrelate in vastly different manners, then being created in His image, it is safe to say that God relates to different individuals differently. Such is the order of things.
Who Is To Blame?
Who are we to blame for the presumed imminent demise of the Christian Church then? Shall we blame the Church leadership? We can pick apart the failings of prominent pastors, preachers, and other church leaders ad nauseum. But what purpose would such an undertaking serve other than making ourselves feel a little better about ourselves. The truth is that, as outsiders, we have a limited view of all that these leaders are doing and how effective their leadership actually is. Furthermore, even is we are precisely correct on our condemnation of someone, we can hope for little more from this exercise in futility than a pat on our collective back which serves nothing more than puffing us up even more. Don’t we become the problem then?
Who is left to blame, then? Let’s take a look at congregations…… Then again, let’s not. Groups of people rarely act inconsistently from general expectations. As an educator, I like to say that people (and groups of people) rarely even meet our expectations which is why we need to keep our expectations high. That is simply part of my personal leadership style and not understood by everyone. The point is, we cannot blame the sheep for following the shepherds. It’s what they are supposed to do.
None of the above directions of thought seem to help the situation except in that they eliminate origins of the problem. Perhaps by doing so, we do come closer to the problem’s root, however. Is theology the problem? It may be an issue, but it is not the real problem I don’t think. Most churches do a pretty good job with their theology even though they may package it differently than the church down the proverbial street.
What Is The Church’s Message These Days?
I blame the message that is being delivered on any given Sunday all across the globe. The message, after all, is the one thing that ties everything together, leadership, congregations, and individuals no matter the size of the church, the music being played or its geographic location.
There was a time in which I would have told you that the message that must be preached every Sunday and is missing in the typical sermon, is the Gospel. I know that there are those that preach the Good News that Jesus Christ lived, died, rose from death and ascended into heaven in order to offer salvation to all the world. This is a good thing and absolutely essential to the Christian Faith…. as far as it goes. But its application is missing.
If you are confused by what I just said, read on and I will attempt to explain. The fact of the matter is that even demons know the Gospel. They know who Jesus is and that He is their true Lord. This being the case, it’s all well and good and truly wonderful to believe the Gospel and to know Jesus as one’s God and Lord but that is obviously not enough for the salvation of one’s soul unless one wishes to admit that all of hell’s demons are saved. I don’t think so.
Like I said, the key component that is missing is the application of the Gospel, the “sign of salvation” if you will. This key is Love. Love permeates the Bible. “God so loved the world…,” “Love God….and your neighbor…,” “There is no greater love than this…” Those are just a few, easy examples off the top of my head. There are many more as I am sure you know. As the Song goes, “They will know that we are Christians by our love…”
We Are Only Getting Started
Ponder in your heart what you believe Biblical, “agape” love is. Read and meditate upon Scripture concerning Love. Of course pray and pray and pray some more. Comment your thoughts, conclusion and questions below. The Bible says much concerning Love. It goes so far as to say that God is Love so, as we delve into this, we are delving into God. We will be returning to this to explore a few specific Bible passages on Love in order to aid us on our journey of transformation.
To tie things up a bit, I once heard a preacher (I apologize but his name escapes me) once say words to this effect, “God doesn’t all you to like anybody, but your are going to have love some people sometimes.”
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