Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Your Church Might Not be a Church If . . .

You never hear the word "sin" there.

You hear the word "sin," but only briefly or redefined as "mistakes."

You can't remember when you last heard the name of Jesus in a message.

The Easter message isn't about the resurrection but "new opportunities" in your life or turning over a new leaf.

On patriotic holiday weekends, the message is about how great America is.

On the other weekends, the message is about how great you are.

There are more videos than prayers.

People don't sing during "worship," but watch.

The pastors' chief responsibilities are things foreign to Scripture.

There is more money budgeted for advertising than for mission.

The majority of the small groups are oriented around sports or leisure, not study or service.

You always feel comfortable there.

Church membership just appears to be a recruiting system for volunteers.

You only see other church people on Sunday mornings at church.

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If your church meets one or more of these, it might be a spiritual pep rally, a religious performance center, a Christian social club, or something else entirely, but it is probably not, biblically speaking, a gathering of the biblical church.

Previously: You May Not Be a Church If . . .

24 comments:

Josh Cousineau said...

Great words Jared. Thanks for the challenge.

Anonymous said...

Wow. How self-centered can you get?

"If your church isn't like my church, then it's not a church."

Unitarianism isn't a real religion.
Judaism and Islam aren't either.
Nor are Buddhism or Hinduism.

You have the "one true way" and everyone else is just playing games.

Thank you for confirming my belief that most devout Christians are snobs and hypocrites.

Let me know when I can help you get that beam out of your eye. It must really sting.

Jared said...

Anonymous, I'm sorry I touched a nerve.

A couple of questions:
What is a church, biblically speaking?
What is the beam in my eye?

Nowhere have I said "Your church might not be a church if it's not like mine." I was trying to say "Your church might not be a church if it doesn't meet the biblical criteria."

Tea Duchess said...

Good message. So many churches are just another networking opportunity. So many dead people sitting in pews going to hell. My heart breaks for them and for the pastors doing this to their congregations.

Roberta said...

I've been praying that the Church will no longer be lukewarm teaching I'm OK, you're OK, but will be hot for the Lord. I think that means cutting out the deadness in us. (I haven't heard sin mentioned except when we have a confession time before communion) and filling us with passion to teach the Gospel and make disciples!

Anonymous said...

I am remaining anonymous because I am afraid people I know will read this..

My church is starting to get on my nerves with their "leaders" standing up every weekend hocking the CD's of certain artists who just so happen to sing at the church all the time. Since when is it OK to hock a CD and then ask for money and then mention VBS? Ugh...just so fed up with it.

Thanks for letting me vent. : )

elfrizzle said...

Jared, I'm not sure how...but some how I ended up following you on twitter. You've always got some good, encouraging, and motivating stuff to say.

I like this. It keeps me and my idea of the Church in check. Thanks!

nhe said...

You know Jared - my church has been all of these at one point or another, and I still notice weekly "people watching, not singing", and "people always feel comfortable there."

However. I would regard my church as "better than most" when it comes to this stuff. Strange huh?

I do think though that small groups should also be centered around Heb 3:13 (it fits well with the first point on your list) ".......let us encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called today, lest any of us be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin"

Carly Payne said...

I definitely agree that in your Christian life you shouldn't always be comfortable (but definitely have a peace within you that the Holy Spirit brings.)
However, I feel that the church is changing, and must continue to change if we want to continue to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the salvation of the world. If videos are what reach the large population today, what reason do we have to not use them? I'm also intrigues with the pastor/scripture comment and what exactly you mean by that. As a pastor, shouldn't all the ministry he or she is involved in be supported by scripture anyway? I feel like I misunderstood this statement. Please explain.

I'm one of the few young who enjoys the hymns and the traditional style of worship, but I also realize that this is becoming less relevant to todays world. I pray that my faith be strong enough to not be shaken as the church moves onward to new things (yet staying true to our Christian principles.)

God is Love. Let us be a pathway to that love for others.

LIFE MATTERS said...

Unlike one of your respondants, I did not think you were saying their/our church needed to be like yours. I saw the post as a list of important questions of self-evaluation. Most churches I have served would stand guilty at some point on many of these. The point is for all of us DO WE ARE TO BE THE CHURCH - THAT SUPERNATURAL ORGANISM THAT IS THE BODY OF CHRIST OR ARE WE CONTENT TO BE AN INWARD FOCUSED SOCIAL CLUB THAT ESPOUSES MAINLY CHRISTIAN VALUES?

Tea Duchess said...

Just read an article about Ted Haggard's new church out growing its location after only a few short weeks. The main phrase repeated in the article was how this church doesn't judge. Where are the Titus teachings? Romans? Where are the churches admonishing people to stop sinning and rise up? Yes there is grace but Jesus also said, 'go, and sin no more!'

James said...

If I may...

Awesome!

Carly, peace in the Bible often came in the midst of trial. Peace nor the standard for normative Christian life ever gave comfort. In fact, to live in Christ as radical as His example is foreign to most of our comfortable American Dream lives. Comfort in church should be rare unless we are referring to the comforting of our spirit in Christ.

Thanks, Jared, for your blog and Twitter. I must confess apology, though. I seemed to at one point upset you over Twitter unintentionally. My sincere apologies. I did not mean to sound like I was challenging you. Instead I was actually not understanding your tweet.

Thanks,
Jamzth

Jared said...

Carly, you wrote:
I feel that the church is changing, and must continue to change if we want to continue to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the salvation of the world

I agree, if all you're talking about is what's frequently called "contextualization." Churches ought to contextualize the message for their surrounding culture. So this post is not about a style of music or even the use of videos, etc.

It's about the losing of the biblical criteria for "church" in favor of an unbiblical focus on just trying to get butts in the seats and keep them.

I'm also intrigues with the pastor/scripture comment and what exactly you mean by that. As a pastor, shouldn't all the ministry he or she is involved in be supported by scripture anyway? I feel like I misunderstood this statement. Please explain.

Yes, a pastor's responsibilities are spelled out in Scripture. I am trying to speak to the modern concept of "pastoring," which frequently does not look like the biblical concept. Many times churches have pastors whose main tasks and areas of focus are things we don't see in the Bible.

Hope that makes sense.

Jared said...

James, no worries, bro.

Anonymous said...

ah... yes... the nerve of you to question... the church, or the pastor(s), or the program... or anything... really...

and... there was only the one that was somewhat bothered by your post... but that "one" I think epitomizes the "many" who simply don't understand the biblical criteria you ask them to lay what you stated... up against...

they probably won't take the time...

and... that to me... is the church's problem and fault... along with the pastor(s) and the pluggers of programming... and the "I just want to feel better about myself" crowd... and ad nausea um..

you are one of my favorite Pastors and friends... because you do have the nerve... to touch the nerve... that has to be seriously paining God to no end...

asking hard questions, making critical statements and basically challenging the contemporary (and not so contemporary) modern church... is forbidden...

you know that... right??? : - )

blessings to you, your love of God, your marriage, your family and your ministry, Jared...

Would love to see you sometime... in person...

If you make it back to Nash Vegas... let me know...

C. Evan Leonard

Anonymous said...

...the one hope is that God uses the foolish things of this world.....

Cutch said...

Thank you brother,

I have been diggin' on your stuff for a few weeks.

I have a real fear for the souls of the blinded.

If I may submit a few from my experience...

- You ask about small groups at the information desk and the lady automatically says, "Sure! Do you like rock climbing?"" and when you finally get through to her you are looking to grow spiritually, she says, "oh, you mean like a Bible study or something? Yea, we have some of those, too!"

- You get past the official greeters at the door and no one makes eye contact with you, much less smiles. They are too busy watching the show on stage and the show going on around them.

- Your leaders are hoping yet another program that "worked" somewhere else just might cause someone's life to change without ever having to mention the inevitability of judgment.

- The words "repentance" and "awakening" make people feel uncomfortable and are deemed "negative".

- The Lord Jesus is never allowed to be portrayed as John saw Him in Revelation -- you know, the Son of God with fire shooting coming out of His eyes so that the Beloved Disciple fell down in awe and terror? "Now come on, God is not someone to fear!"

Your God is talked about only as love but never holy -- even though that's all the ones that are around His throne are saying that is what He is.

- Your lead pastor initiates a "successful" program for "renewal" that means getting people to come back to churches but when you ask about the need for "revival" he says, "oh no, you can't control revival."

- Everyone seems to live like the world, fit in with the world, desire to be popular in the world, and yet wonder why their children don't seem to like church as soon as they graduate high school and don't have to come.

- You have no idea what a blog entry like this means or why it is relevant.

May God grant with His Spirit the ability to see with the eyes of our hearts just Who He really is, to awaken us, so that we may continually submit, repent, renew, transform, and obey.

Blessings

Bill said...

On the never mentioning sin thing - the church I go to went through a troubling phase about 10 years ago of starting to teach people to say "I blew it", rather than "I sinned". "I blew it" is so much nicer, of course - sounds like I dropped a pop-fly or blew a dunk or something. :-)

We've moved past that, thankfully.

Great post Jared.

Spike said...

Behavior oriented faith always raises my eyebrows. Sin or not, the bible is clear that we can only "not" by grace. Most sin condemners have one foot in the salvation by works door if they fail to tie sinning less to the gift of the gospel of grace to actually sin less. This post sticks out from your usually gospel wakeful posts. I'm suprised.

Spike said...

I suppose my "Your church might not be a church if..." would be:

You never hear about grace there...

Erik K. said...

Or if the message consists more of anecdotes and jokes than scripture. I once attended a church in Indiana where the pastor only briefly read from the Bible in the beginning of his message and filled the rest of the message with anecdotes and warm-fuzzy stories seemingly lifted from Reader's Digest. If I want useless, feel-good spirituality, I'll watch Oprah. People may not want truth, but they need it.

Roberta said...

I heard a historian say "sin" on TV the other day. Maybe times are changing and we will be able to say words such as sin in public and people will understand what that is.

Jen said...

Your church may not be a church if it's run like a business instead of growing as a family.

Anonymous said...

Your church may not be a church if the best parking spot has a sign that says," Reserved for the pastor" I hate that. Pompous and egotistical.
Mark, Fl.