Wow… where do I start? I have read the books. I have been to the conferences and listened to the top speakers in the country. -And I have heard all the angles. I have even visited one of the most talked about “revivals” of the past century. (I am not sure if I want to publicly admit that or not.) -Calvinists, Charismatics, Armininianist, Missiologists… -Reformed theology, dispensational theology, “no” theology… it’s all out there and I have been exposed to almost all of it. I guess if it were important to me, I could keep up with the steady information flow, toss the complex terms around in religious conversation and quote the latest “hot” author in order to impress my peers and those I minister to. -But… a few years ago I began to wonder why we were all doing this in the first place? And eventually, I just got completely exhausted with all of it.
I often ponder all the impressive theological and intellectual words that I have learned over the years and think, “With all the spiritual ramblings written in all the books, spoken at all the church oriented events and blasted out using every form of media imaginable, -where are all the “healthy” communities of believers? With all the Bible colleges, seminaries and other religious institutions that clutter christianity’s landscape, -where are all the authentic disciples? With all the money flowing, paid staff working literally millions of hours every year and all the other immeasurable resources available to the Church, -why aren’t we making a difference in our culture? With all of the teaching & preaching that is blasted through state of the art church multimedia systems, pumped through global satellite networks and displayed for all to see across numerous social media platforms, why are we not changed? Despite our use of the world’s technology, recruitment of the very best talent that money can buy and hedging our bets on state of the art facilities, all used to create a very relaxing and entertaining, yet intellectually stimulating, “coffee house” atmosphere that our unchurched friends should feel comfortable coming to -why aren’t they interested? One very simple question, “Why?”
Let’s remember a very fitting definition of the word “insanity,” “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Can we just get really honest with ourselves??? We are failing to reach our culture. We are failing to make an impact on our communities. We are failing to win our friends, neighbors and loved ones to God’s Kingdom. Why???
-It is not for lack of resources…
-It is not for lack of theological education…
-It is not for lack of exposure…
Our resources, knowledge and means of exposing our beliefs and values to our culture are exponentially larger than that of the early church. You do understand that, right? So why do we struggle? Maybe, just maybe, we need to pull our heads out of our theology & church programming and start asking ourselves some basic questions:
-What if we relaxed our loyalty to our coveted theological positions in order to use some common sense?
-What if we stopped flashing around all the high-end intellectual terms that are not readily found in scripture and focused on the basics?
-What if we were willing to question the validity of our most beloved church programs in order to reconcile them with the simple teachings of Jesus?
-What if we renounced the “glamour” of doing church and retreated to the “purpose” of the Church?
-What if we traded our “church growth” programs in for learning how to participate in authentic relationships that produce organic community?
-What if “success” had a deeper meaning than the number of butts that are sitting in our sanctuaries on Sunday mornings?
What if “church” as we know it is supposed to look COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ?
If Sunday’s “celebration” service had to be canceled, if the video projectors were hocked at the local pawn shop, if there was no stage for the band to play on because the church buildings had been auctioned off, if the bank accounts were completely depleted and all the staff had to be terminated, if these “nonessential” elements that seem so “essential” to today’s church were removed, what would we have left?
-Would we have disciples?
-Would we have anyone willing to shepherd the people?
-Would we still have as many churches?
Water is used in innumerable mixtures, from soft drinks to commercial cleaners. -But when it is purified to its simplest form and broken down to it’s most basic molecular components, we find a simple molecule containing the following elements: two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. What should we find when the Church is deduced down to Her basic elements, -when She is in Her purest most organic state?
I know, I know… I’m making you think. I’m making you uncomfortable. I’m questioning the validity of your “finely tuned” theology and church programs. I might even be making you mad. Hopefully, I am at least making you “wrestle” a bit. -I invite you to “wrestle” for a few weeks with me as I invest some thought into pondering, “What are the core elements of the Church.”
May God help us have open minds and open hearts as to what “His Bride” is supposed to be made of.