I was listening to Francis Chan, and he made an interesting statement. If you started a church today and you had no knowledge of a church, never been to a church and never seen a church, all you had was the New Testament, what would your church look like? That got me thinking, what would a New Testament church look like? How would we behave? What would we do? How would we meet? Where would we meet and how often? Is what we have today really a New Testament church?
In the New Testament, how many people came and just sat and left? How many were not radically changed? In today’s church on a given Sunday morning, how many people show little to no fruit of their walk with Christ? How many show no life transformation? How many are actively being discipled? How many are involved in making disciples? How many of our “leader” behave just like the rest of the world when they get mad or angry? How many hold the same standards of material possessions, success, and achievement?
Even in the church, if we want more done, do we work harder or do we pray more? We love to talk about accountability, meaning the people who lead are suppose to lead harder, better, faster, cleaner and strong. Is that a New Testament idea or an American one? Why do we assume that “do all things as for the Lord” means to work yourself to death so the Holy Spirit doesn’t have too. Is it working? Are we producing fruit or are we pushing people out the door? If we are doing so great, why is the Christian Faith in a steady nosedive in this country?
Are we really reaching people with our standard American model? It seems to me it’s based mostly on personality and human effort. The churches that grow have a strong, gifted and eloquent lead or senior pastor. Is the Lord adding to the church, or are we bringing them in ourselves?
What happens to the men who God calls who don’t have that ability to draw a crowd? I will tell you they burn out, they get frustrated, the drop out and fall away. It’s no wonder, when you talk about ministry with most pastors, they will tell you it’s hard work, long hours, little pay and high stress. Guys are burning out and destroying themselves, and I think it’s this American idealistic model of you get what you earn, so you work harder and God will do more. We wouldn’t say it like that, but that is how it works. It’s absurd to think if you look better, speak better and sound intelligent that the Holy Spirit will work through you more thn someone who is more humble, homely and not as sharp.
What is the problem? Ego? I think that is a huge part of it. A need to have control rather than letting God have it? I think that is probably another big chunk. Doing it the same way we have always done it? Probably. This is this need to prove ourselves, to work harder and try harder, after all, we gotta earn that paycheck, right? After all, we work for the church, we work for the tithers, and if they aren’t happy, then they will leave. That’s not New Testament, it’s not life transformation, it’s not about Jesus. It’s about keeping the masses happy so we can be “successful”.
I think the church in America is headed for disaster, because we are idolatrous with this concept of success. We worship hard work, we worship self-sacrifice, we worship following every rule and we are not different than the religious leaders and pharisees. We have stopped trusting in God, we worship Mega-Church pastors, we put them in charge of agencies and the denomination because they “have proven they can be successful” and we try to mold ourselves into their image. It smells like idol worship and self-service to me.
Let me finish with this statement, and I feel sure many of you will begin commenting long before you get this far in my article. I am not picking on you, so please don’t write “did you do research, why are you saying “we”, I am not like that”. I’m sure you are not, I am sure you are the exception to this rule. I am using “we” to talk about the American church in general, and I am sure yours is great and doesn’t have this problem. Don’t worry, I am talking to everyone else who hasn’t learned from you to see how great you are doing. I wouldn’t want to tell you that you are doing anything wrong and heaven forbid that you would admit to it, so save your comments about how I am judging you and I haven’t seen your church. I am not talking about you, I have a whole other blog to write for you. In the mean time, let’s pray that we can figure out what it means to be The Church and stop working so hard to run this business and social organization that we claim is church.