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.
11 responses to “Exhausted… -Rediscovering the core elements of the Church”
One of the things that God has been pointing out to me is from Matthew 7:13-14. Wide is the road that leads to destruction and many will enter through it..but narrow is the road that leads to life and only a few will find it. (paraphrased by me). It doesn’t mean that we just give up and not tell people about Christ…but as we are doing the work that He has prepared us to do, we must remember that not everyone will choose Him. Think about how long and hard the prophets lived their lives delivering God’s words to His chosen people and how many times they were basically the only ones who were being true to God and no one cared. Are we willing to work as long and as hard with the same results? I hope so. I’m in.
BTW..loved your post :)
Thanks Shawna. I totally agree with you in regards to “doing the work” knowing that some will choose not to follow. That is a reality that Jesus prepared us for. -My struggle is with presenting “a gospel” and church culture that in some ways, lacks essential elements and then adds other non-essential elements.
Thank you Eric for your insightful post. Love and appreciate you and your contributions to the Kingdom of Christ. Keep following your heart.
Thanks Tom, those words of encouragement mean a lot to me coming from you.
The Church needs to do whatever it takes to bring her into a state of persecution. This doesn’t mean we’re to do it out of pride, but rather by being uncompromising in our lives and standing for the truth. Only then will the Church be refined, drive out the hypocrites, and force us to truly trust the Lord for our souls. The seed of the Church is built upon the blood of the saints. Once we believe *that* then the Church will be as she was intended.
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here. (John 18:36 NKJV)
Steve, I think the answer we are looking for lays somewhere in the teachings of Jesus. Persecution surly brings refinement but I an not sure it is our job to initiate that. There are most definitely hypocrites in the church, but I am not sure we need to “drive them out.” I think the answer lays in how we respond to the current condition. The text I quoted above has been echoing in my spirit for sometime.
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As we are taking a “church break” while mom is recovering from her last experience I began to worry about my kids. I asked my 8th grader what she thought of not going to church. She said she did not miss it as she said it is just “a man who preaches about things he will never do and sitting with people who do not talk to you.” My other daughter said of her church/christian school environment, “There aren’t very many real christians anymore.” I am so proud that they see that you have to have faith and fruit! And I am so sorry I could not find such a community for them to be a part of. Luckily, we have 8 in our family and 2 wonderful fiancés so they are not so dependent on peer groups. I think you are right on in focusing on relationships – they are the most important, the rest is fluff. Programs, music, and buildings are nice but it is the relationships that keep people in the church. If they do not show a genuine caring then people will leave. Whatever happened to what I learned in school: Jesus first, others second, yourself last. If we as adults model this saying our churches would be bulging.
Diane, I agree with you. -And more importantly, there are other pastors and churches who agree with us as well. Take time to heal, but please do not give up searching for a healthy church whose values match yours. They are out there.