Quit Playing Church

12 02 2012

I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for some time now to share some frustrations, encouragements, and to challenge others.  It is my desire to make people who go to church, who consider themselves Christians, to think about the faith that they profess.  What is it?  What is it about?  Is it for real in our lives?  What about what we call “church”?  How are we to live?  I probably won’t answer those questions themselves but may challenge you to answer them within my posts.  I am not the sole authority on how you or others should live their lives, but God is.  The Bible is the way that God has told us how to live our lives and live toward each other.

It is not my intend to offend.  However, God is offensive to many.  The gospel is offensive to many.  The Bible is offensive to many.  I may lose some Facebook “friends”.  I really don’t care.  I hope I may be able to make someone think about their faith, why they believe it, and what they are doing about it, even if they don’t agree with me.  The last thing I want is to have this blog read by only those who may agree.  I don’t want to be “followed”, I want to encourage and challenge others to follow, not people, pastors, or churches, but Christ.  He told us to follow Him.

Unfortunately, something is not right with the American church.  In the last ten years, I have seen or heard about:

-Pastors have affairs and end their marriages
-The Gospel watered down so that nobody gets offended yet nobody really hears truth
-Church services that seemed more like a concert or just plain entertainment than anything else
-People in church having their own “cliques” and not caring about others
-A lack of being proactive
-“Fellowship” that consists of talking about sports, news, the latest movie, etc… things I can talk to people at work about who are not Christians

That is just a small list of the many things I have come across in the last ten years.  Something is wrong.  Has the American church gone to sleep?  Does it care anymore about what Jesus taught us?  Does it only care about those who are exactly like them?

There are people who don’t go to church or don’t want to because of bad experiences they have had.  There are those that go to church to be social.  There are also those who practice “Churchianity” and pay their “weekly dues”.  That is not what church or Jesus Christ is all about.  He said to follow Him.

Again, I hope to encourage and challenge.  By all means, encourage and challenge me as well.  If you are a follower of Christ, we are on this faith journey together.  We are not called to tear each other apart, but to build each other up.

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4 responses

12 02 2012
MB

Asleep is a good word. Although I’m a hypocrite because I don’t even go to church so maybe i don’t have a right to say anything (I was going 8 months ago), I feel so many of these things you talk about. I sense that fellowship is important, but I’ve been kicked so much by other church goers, it hardly feels worth it. I’ve been to small churches, medium sized churches, and large churches. It seems that the large church might have awesome preaching, but lacks the fellowship component while the small churches at times have watered down preaching (because they are trying to attract more people) but are strong in the fellowship areas — yet still aren’t keeping people accountable, just trying to attract more in with activities and have become like a fan club of sorts. I really don’t know what the answer is. And honestly, I’m so judgmental at this point that I don’t know if I can see clearly enough to know what a good church is. I’ve been so disappointed. But I appreciate you tackling such topics. Maybe I will learn something.

12 02 2012
cdubbs727

I think there are two main problems in the American church right now.

The first is that, yes, there are churches that are more interested in being “relevant” to the world and making people feel good than anything else. These churches may have large numbers (although not every large church is a bad one) but they often put too much emphasis on the worship “experience” and water down the Gospel so that it’s not offensive–but the Gospel, as you said, is both beautiful and offensive.

But I think there’s another problem in churches today too, and I see it very strongly in Reformed churches. I think there’s a tendency to focus too much on doctrine and less on love, grace, charity and forgiveness. I’m not saying doctrine doesn’t need to be adhered to–our doctrine must be solid first and foremost. But I know many Christians who have a tendency to obsess over doctrine and spend every hour debating the minutae of the Scripture, arguing over debatable passages. It’s easy to forget that the Bible is not a magnet meant to draw us in to read for hours on end; it’s a spring that pushes us out into the world, to live, love, serve and enjoy Christ.

When I look at many Christians today I see a lack of love and joy, two things that above all should mark believers. I see, instead, a lot of legalism and a lot of fear, which leads to the church being isolated from the rest of the world. We’re so afraid of the world out there that we have our own movies, music and cliques that keep us from socializing with those who don’t share our beliefs.

I do disagree with the idea that fellowship cannot include talk about movies, music, sports and the like. God made us to be artistic, creative beings and He gave us a world to enjoy. I think these things can, and have, been detrimental in the past, but they can also be redemptive ways to know God more–there have been movies that spoke to me deeper about God’s Truth than many sermons I’ve heard. And, after all, as theologians have said, “All Truth is God’s Truth.” Plus, as you said, they do open inroads for us to build relationships and friendships with unbelievers, which is the first step in sharing the Gospel.

However, I do agree with you that these discussions should never take the place of the fellowship we are to have with others, and we should always be looking for ways in which these discussions ultimately bring us around to how we know God better, through truth that’s revealed through the art, through questioning God and the Word and through civil debate and discussion.

Good thoughts, Chris…these are questions that need asked; just be prepared for a diverse array of answers!

20 02 2012
1in1000 (@1in1000Kevin)

It is not a choice between doctrine and works. Good doctrine produced good works. We need to emphasize both and their relationship to each other!

1 Timothy 4:12-16 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

1 Timothy 6:3-6 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. 6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain.

24 02 2012
cdubbs727

I agree that doctrine produces works–we can’t toss the baby out with the bath water.

Having said that, I do believe that there is a movement in American Reformed Christianity today (of which I’m a part) that cherishes doctrine so much that it neglects the other calls of loving and serving others. I’ve known Christians who spend hours debating theological minutiae (eschatology, sprinkle v. dunked baptism, election) at the expense of engaging in community with others, serving those in need and loving those outside of the Body.

To be sure, doctrine is essential. It sets the guidelines for what we believe and how we act–although it’s the Spirit that kindles that into action. However, we shouldn’t worship doctrine, we shouldn’t idolize doctrine and we shouldn’t think that an increased knowledge of Scripture, theology and doctrine is the same thing as Spiritual growth. Surely it’s a part of it, but if it’s not backed up with love for others, joy, selfishness, service and a desire to worship, it’s just trivia.

I heard it explained this way: let’s say that my wife went away on a trip and she e-mailed me every day. And I spent every day engrossed in those e-mails, reading every word my wife wrote to me. That would be expected, right? But let’s say that my wife came home and wanted to spend time with me, wanted to go out on dates and wanted to be with friends. And I told her, “Later, honey. I’m too busy reading your letters”? In the same way, I think there’s a danger in isolating ourselves and spending too much time pouring over doctrine and neglecting the things that that very doctrine tells us to do. I know a lot of Christians who know have great spiritual insights. But they’re cold to their families, stingy with their money, don’t spend time in service and aren’t joyful or happy about the things God has blessed them with. THAT, to me, is just as bad as someone who does good things and has no knowledge of doctrine.

Sorry, just wanted to clarify what I had meant 🙂

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