One of our readers wonders why the modern church isn’t showing much success fulfilling its mission. He asks, have we:
- reduced true fellowship to filling auditorium seats?
- become more focused on gaining members than winning the lost?
- emphasized going to church, rather than being the Church?
- become overly concerned with buildings and salaries?
- promoted religion and call it Christianity?
These are good questions. We are especially glad our reader sees this as a “we” problem not just a “they” problem. We must be honest. We do stress church as a place to go more than a people called to live for Christ.The modern American church makes few new disciples. Most who join shuffle from congregation to congregation. They are retreads who have either tired of their former church or have moved.
Movement or Institution. What you are concerned about should concern every believer. It seems clear to us the church has turned away from being a vital, life changing movement into a ponderous, rather boring institution. Worldly methods are substituted for the power of God’s Spirit. Professionals, many of whom get large salaries and expensive perks, run the show. Rank and file believers are little more than pastoral aides rather than being equipped for their ministries.
Churches that grow do not make a strong distinction between professionals and what is termed, “the laity.” That is not a biblical word, but an invention of the professionals.
What About Numbers? While we must not focus on them, we do need to make disciples and welcome them into our fellowship. Luke reveals how a church’s vitality is revealed by how many new disciples were added to the church. (Acts 2: 41, 47; 5:14; 11:24). He also stressed, the high degree of commitment of these new members. Read Acts 2 again to see how enthusiastic they were in their new faith and compare that to ours.
Who is the Evangelist? Luke also says something very interesting about church growth. He uses the phrase, “God added to the church.” So God is the evangelist. When we obey the principles laid down by Jesus for growing the church, God will do his part by adding real disciples to us, not just members who attend.
Jesus’ Principle of Growth. We need to be concerned by growth in numbers of committed believers and in the quality of that commitment. The principles we stress begins with Jesus command found in John 13: 34, 35 and his pastoral prayer in John 17: 20-21. Read these words and you will grasp how important our commitment to one another is to him. The reason he wanted us to be in one accord was to model his love to the world and gain their respect and interest.
Do Shepherds Beget sheep?. The church has turned things upside down and wrong-side out. It is tantamount to sending the coaches out on the field to win the game while the team cheers from the sidelines. But do shepherds reproduce sheep or do sheep reproduce sheep?
Please share your thoughts.