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Monday, March 28, 2011

Should Church Simply Cater to the Desires of People?

The Church has certainly become a consumer oriented entity. Churches are surveying their areas and designing themselves to meet the expectation of those surveys. The membership's expectation drives the ministries of the churches. People stop attending one church and attend another based on "their needs" being met. Pastors rush from one current idea to another trying to keep up with the changing whims of people.

I know that churches are dying in significant numbers. Many of those still operating are on life support. Naturally, pastors are looking for something that will draw people. They see the mega-churches whose weekly attendance is in the thousands. They believe that this could be their churches if they would simply follow the lead of the mega-churches. They fail to see that their community doesn't match that of the mega-churches and their personality does not match that of the mega-churches' pastors. They think it is all about methods. It isn't, but that doesn't keep them from trying.

How did things get this way? Preaching the Bible and bringing people to know Christ for salvation are secondary to getting people to attend. It appears we are saying, "Come to our church. We don't care what you believe. In fact, we don't care if you ever believe?"

I suppose churches have always been somewhat consumer oriented. I am more likely to hear a complaint about the temperature of the sanctuary or the level of sound than I am to hear a member share how he or she has won someone to Christ. They are more likely to tell me of someone I didn't visit in the hospital than confess they haven't shared Christ with one soul all year long. This focus is across the board. Most of the older members aren't any more spiritually mature than the younger.

I wonder if most of the people really believe the gospel. Do they believe that Jesus truly sacrificed His life so that all who believed would be forgiven of their sins? Do they really believe that everyone who doesn't do this will go to hell? Do they know that it doesn't matter how good these people were in life? Do they know that the only hope we have is in Jesus? I don't think they do.

Either Christians believe the true gospel and will do whatever they can to see people come to know Christ or they have become as self-absorbed as their non-Christian friends. They believe that giving to the social ministries is as important as sharing the gospel. They fail to realize that every social ministry helps people during their time on earth. The gospel begins the day it is accepted and continues for eternity.

I, for one, am frustrated with the Christianity we have today. I am tired of trying to follow every idea presented by mega-churches so that my church will grow. I want to share the plain truth of the Bible without having to be concerned whether the consumers who hear it will come back. Don't get me wrong. I love having people attend worship. I love seeing them "get it" when I preach but I don't want their continued attendance to be the basis for my sermons. I want my own faithfulness to the gospel to be my basis for preaching. It seems that the number of people who want this preaching is shrinking.

Someday, I may be preaching in a building all by myself.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (ESV)
1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

1 comment:

Brenda Susan said...

I understand your thoughts and frustrations. Hubs and I have been in vocational ministry for 30 years and we are wondering how the whole church system got started in the first place. It is not working, yet it lives on trying everything possible to be relevant.
I don't think Jesus worried about relevancy.

We are seeing that "church" really happens in community and that can look pretty different from sitting in rows in a sanctuary. It's figuring out what that is, that occupies us now.