Wednesday, March 11, 2009

WIll the TRUE Church please stand UP!!!

Identity Crisis #4: The church has been transformed by the culture of the world.

It has been too long that we have opened God's church, the body of Christ, to the culture of the world. The following examples I give you are from experiences I have had in my own life as part of a church. I have understood pastor's say that they are CEO's of the church. Since when has God called you to a high paying salary, a private jet, greediness, selfishness, and a holier than thou attitude. We are supposed to live the life of a servant, teaching and preaching God's Word humbly, and applying that teaching to ourselves as well as teaching doctrine, theology, and application to the congregation. Paul writes in Philippians 2 that we are to have the same attitiude of Christ...."humility and obedience", so we, pastor's, are to model this to the congregation and the community. Instead of preaching "you" to the crowd, we need to be preaching "we"....because we all are sinners that fall short of the glory of God.

In many churches, deacons have become boards of decision makers instead of servants of the church as we read in Acts 6. I am reading the translation of the Greek verb diakonew: serve, wait on; care for, see after, provide for; serve as a deacon. This board mentality is from a business or organization of the world and we like it so much it has to apply to the church. Go back to Identity Crisis #2; "we don't really know what church is." I have served at a few churches where deacons did no service, they made decisions for the welfare of the church...they were in charge. Didn't Jesus break up the argument of the disciples saying "Who will be first?"..."Who will be your #1, Jesus?" The answer is "The first shall be last." (Matthew 19:30)

Scripture is not the authority of the Church as God's Word. The attitude of Christ's church is "Just because God wrote it doesn't mean that it should apply to me" or "Just because it is in the Bible doesn't mean I have to follow it". We sit under teaching after teaching after preaching and our lives are no different, we havent applied anything!! We have let culture(worldly views) and politics guide our actions, we want to be politically correct. We have to side with one political party or the other. We think that we have to be stamped by the world by what we believe in....Democrat, Independent, or Repulican, instead of being identified as a believer of Jesus Christ, holy, chosen, and set apart.

Finally, the believers that make up the church. Folks, believers are to submit to God!! If we are believers, God's Word says we are to be pro-life, support marriage between man and woman for life, abstain from being drunkards, live Spirit filled lives not fleshly lives, stand against immorality, be just, and so on. This is against the world and culture we live in and the message it brings. We have been passionate about causes instead of being passionate about Christ in our lives. We are more passionate about success for ourselves than serving others. We are more passionate about griping about the world around us instead of being passionate about reading God's Word and applying the positive change it can make in our lives. We are more passionate about indulging in what the world offers than being passionate about changing our lives to sin less because it is Christ's desire for the believer. Martin Luther figured it out....and it changed his life in a major way. Aren't we called to be salt and light? To make a difference in the world becuase of our relationship with Jesus and to be a city on a hill that cannot be hidden?

What is it going to take? We are so far away from spiritual awakening because you cannot tell the difference between the world and the church. Is Henry Blackaby right? In his book, Holiness, "The spiritual condition of America depends on the spiritual condition of God's people." If it is, it depends on the believer of Jesus Christ to turn things around, to pray, to worship, to hunger for God's Word, to thirst for righteousness, to desire a close relationship with our Lord and Savior, to minister to others, to spread the gospel, to crave holiness, to be the example of Christ, to not forsake the meeting with the family of God.

We must get back to the roots of the early church in Acts where it all began.....Ed Stetzer said in a missional conference I attended: "We are called to be a first century church in a 21st Century world", not a 21st century church in a 21st century world!! We are hurting ourselves trying to be relevant, trying to fit in with the culture outside. Quit acting like the culture around us, quit letting the principles of the world into the called out, children of God, chosen, set apart, led by Christ, CHURCH!! Will the TRUE Church please STAND UP...for Jesus Christ and bow humbly and claim Him King!! Messiah!! Savior!! and Lord!! and claim ourselves as servants of Him who died on the cross for our sins because He loved us so much and submit to His plan, His will, His authority in our lives.


Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Pastor Brian,

I appreciate what you have written in these articles. I'm sure you realize that in doing so you have done the easy part. I mean that identifying the problem is much easier than applying the solution. What solutions do you propose?

Love in Christ,


Anonymous said...

:) nudge, nudge, poke, poke, prod, prod is a solution. Even when they make it irritating. Or especially when they are irritating, because that's usually where I need a little salt.

How do we judge our 'church' health? Our 'local body' of believers that we choose to associate with, support, break bread with, fellowship with, and all that? How do we judge it?

Are we all going about our business as usual or is our business as usual reaching out to each other, studying together the Word and applying it to our life to reach out to others? Is the number of people baptized the measure or is it a numbers game?

or is the measure the number of people who gather together to study God's Word, and do 'things' (maybe some time at Habitat for Humanity or such?) for those who are needing help?

I'm not sure.

Gene Pool said...

Dear Pastor Brian,

I must first say that you are spot-on with your blog statements, and I take my hat off to you for the courage to go public with your positions.

Regarding the assertion of opening God's church to the culture of the world, I could not agree more. In thinking about it, I have concluded that the church (local gathering of the called out ones) is contaminated by the world because we members are contaminated by the world. It stands to reason we don’t wash off the week’s worth of absorbed cultural garbage with our Saturday night baths. We bring it with us--we have become what we consumed. And the consumption of garbage is not going to get better. Just look at what we allow our children to consume--I can only say, brace yourself for the next generation.

So what does the church do about it? Does the church (pastors, teachers and deacons) “equip its members with the tools they need to overcome sin and remain free from the pollution of the world”? If so, can church leadership give a specific description of it? Or does anyone besides Gene Pool see that as a purpose of the assembled church?

And when considering members, we are (unfortunately) made up of three categories--the saved, the unsaved, and those who think they are saved but really aren’t. For the saved, does the preaching and teaching admonish, i.e. caution, advise, counsel, urge to a duty the believers? Does it edify, encourage, and build up? And the larger question; does the preaching and teaching make the unsaved so uncomfortable they either want to flee the confrontation with the holy and sovereign God of the universe, or they fall down on their knees devastatingly convicted of their standing before The Almighty? Or is preaching and teaching delivered in a tip-toe fashion? (Don’t want to confront and offend lest someone get ruffled and take their tithe elsewhere).

And what is the commitment of the Bible teachers? How much serious time is spent in preparation each week? I would dare say that the average time spent in preparation for Sunday School lessons is under 20 minutes, and that is on Saturday nights or early Sunday mornings. (By the way, I don’t count during commercials of the football game as “serious” lesson preparation.) I would also say the average time spent in front of the television is over 20 hours a week. That illustrates commitment to culture as well as God.

I could go on abnauseous, but I doubt there would be interest. To address Jeff Richard Young’s question above regarding proposed solutions; the answer is follow Scripture. Preach and teach the whole Word of God. Go to God’s Word and make it the authority for our lives, and when we come together as church. Christians commit to the lordship of Jesus Christ where He is master and we are His slaves. And for those individuals who refuse biblical authority...and Jesus Christ as Lord, they are declaring they are their own authority and their own lord. They are not the called out ones. So, by definition, they are not the church.

That’s my off-the-cuff 2-cents worth.

Gene Pool

John_Hoelzel_Sr said...

Thanks Pastor Brian for standing up, standing out, and not standing alone (like the 3 Hebrew "children.") One suggestion is merely identify the true acronym of CEO as Christ's Examples of Overcomers (by the blood of the lamb, the word of their testimony, and not loving their life unto death.) A Pastor will surely wear out unless he focuses on his primary task, "equipping the saints for the work of the ministry." A good yardstick is God's measure of faithfulness to replace man's measure of (temporary) success. Here is a prayer a Thinkable reader requested for our nation - be forewarned that some liked it and one said it misses the mark of the root problem of departing from our first love for Christ. I can agree that rekindlilng our passionate love for Christ is the path to revival (which is the path to effectual evangelism).
Praying in Ernest for our Nation:
Lord, You inspired many of our founding fathers to stand up, stand out, and not stand alone as brave patriots and ambassadors for you. Much like someone who has never served their country in our armed forces has something vital lacking in their knowledge and experience, so also someone who does not know you by faith does not personally know nor experience Your rich values, gifts, and eternal spiritual life. So we expect them to think their ways are even improvements over Your ways – more politically correct, more tolerant of diversity, more democratic, and even less judgmental, while stifling freedoms that Christians have enjoyed since the beginning of our nation.
Lord, Your ways include: Righteousness exalts a nation (but many of us ignore Your Son Jesus who is our righteousness, and our politicians talk only of money and not of what is right or wrong); You say we cannot serve both God and money (but our minority has demanded that Your name not be used in our schools, city square, on our currency, or at public events, lest someone who does not know you might be offended); You say you will stand up for those who stand for You (but many of us act ashamed of You rather than ashamed of sinful decisions, behaviors, and opposition to Your ways stated in Your Word). You tell us that Godliness with contentment is great gain (but we act as though we plan to take material things with us when we leave life on earth).
We typically strive for “success” but You instead value our faithfulness; Our churches often act competitively and some even shoot their wounded, but You look for us to be known in our communities for the unity, love, and service that Your Spirit provides; We reward the proud, polished speaker-leader, but Your cross is a leveler which permits no pride to raise its head, producing servant-leaders; We often make excuses and lies that stem from the “father of lies,” but You desire truth and Your mercy is stimulated by our confession.
Clean our hearts, O God, with the detergent of Your Son’s blood. Our country and people need you to renew in us a right spirit. Our country is being overcome with adversity and unconfessed sin, and we need now your mighty Spirit and power to revive us again. Take away our sinful and hindering independence and rebellion, so that we can join You and work together for good. Your ways are always best for us, but we need to acknowledge that with repentant hearts. Be our companion and guide us where we have failed in your sight so that we can become righteous servant-leaders of our country, our homes, of everyday of living including seeing and meeting needs. We grieve for your mercy and help in these perilous times. Turn us around quickly through leaders and populous who stand in the gap for our nation, so that in Your righteousness You can turn and deal with us in mercy rather than judgment.

Please join us in this and similar prayers of repentance.

Ergatees said...

Sleepy Disciple (Telephone Pastor),

I was really encouraged by what you have posted here. I think you are spot on with your comment about the worldliness of our Churches, and Jeff Richard Young asks a good question. Okay…so what do we do about it?

Gene Pool,

Hats off to you as well. I have really enjoyed reading your responses, they have been most edifying. I think your answer to Jeff Richard Young is right on target.

We have to get the in the Word and allow the Word to get into us, as my Senior Pastor just preached on Sunday. We really need to think about our worship. You see, I think real worship is strongly related to Gene Pool's answer. I say that because I would understand REAL worship to be the day by day, moment by moment conformation of our wills and actions to the will of God. Simply stated, worship is the act of being obedient, from moment to moment, to the perfect will of God. This would include singing praises to God (corporately and alone), praying to God (corporately and alone), studying the Scriptures (corporately and alone), solitude with King of the Universe, etc. The key to real worship is understanding what the will of God is. Understanding the will of God comes from three things, study of the Word of God (which would include preaching), praying, and fellowship with other believers. Each of these is an avenue of approach for the Word of God into our lives. As we understand the Word of God, we understand the will of God, then comes the HARD PART....OBEDIENCE. So, if we want to change our Churches...we need to constantly and consistent preach the Word of God and be living models of REAL Worship to God; pouring out our lives as living sacrifices to God living out the our lives in obedience to Him who formed us and gave us life. In the end is obedience really that hard when we put it all into perspective. God is our creator and He has provided our salvation for us. He has given, and given, and given, all He asks from us is obedience. The reason we have breath is because He has allowed it….if we really think about this and meditate on this, obedience will come with praise and adoration to God for all that He has done. That is why it is so important for us to preach the Gospel to ourselves. We need to remind ourselves daily – maybe even more than daily – who we were, who God is, what He has done, and who we are now as a result.

How long will it take for our work and efforts into the lives of others to be effectual? I think God is the one that has the answer to that, since that is His business. We really cannot control anyone else. We can control ourselves; we should do our part and God will do His. We need to remind ourselves that His timing is perfect and ours is not…

I look forward to reading and gleaning from the next entry on this wonderful blog.

In Him,