Thursday, July 14, 2016

What’s Wrong With The Churches Today?

            Heard about the Stayaway Saint Syndrome? 1

            Research company, Barna Group, estimates that 156 million Americans are churchless - those who have never attended a worship service barring a wedding or a funeral.2 These numbers need not be considered as unique or native to the USA, but representative of all the countries.

            Why are there stayaway saints or churchless Christians? The condition of today’s churches does not appeal to the stayaway Christians.

            If you think that everything is well with our churches today, then you may be partially correct. Not everything is right in the churches today, much is wrong.

            Christian apologist, Frank Turek, thus highlighted the church’s failure by examining the aspects of the timing of church services, Scripture reading, message, and worship (singing). He then concluded that if the church fails to disciple its flock, then its members would have a very poor commitment to Christ and their lives would hardly show any change. Here is an excerpt from his article, “The Seeker Church: Is Anyone Making Disciples?”

            “Time:  This won’t take long– 45 minutes to an hour, max.  You can set your watch by these services.  And if the pastor or priest goes just a wee bit longer, the congregation gets restless.

            The Bible:  Leave your Bible home– the folks on the stage or altar handle the Bible reading which is normally a mere sprinkling of verses yanked from their context.  Moreover, there is no attempt to teach you how to study the scriptures yourself.

            Worship:  Just watch– there is a performance up front.  You’re more of an observer than an active participant in worship.

            Message:  It’s groundhog day– you hear the same, short message repackaged every Sunday.  The sermon (or Homily) is to preaching what cotton candy is to nutrition.  Sweet but of little value.

            Outcome:  Low commitment and little life change. 

            …We’ve got to stop defending our church practices if they are not doing what Jesus told us to do.  If you’re not making disciples, you’re not doing church the way Jesus commanded it.  As Jesus warned, we can’t let our traditions nullify the Word of God.

            …We’re loosing 75% of our young people because– instead of making disciples who are in awe of God and devoted to His purposes– a majority of churches from most  denominations are producing shallow narcisists obsessed with themselves and their own happiness.” 3 (Emphasis Mine).

            “Satan is not fighting churches, he is joining them. He does more harm by sowing tares than by pulling up wheat,” these were the very words of the renowned evangelist, Vance Havner, who added another dimension – the satanic – to emphasize the spiritual poverty of our churches.

            Satan is hyperactive in our churches. An article in the “Charisma News” reveals the sorry state of our churches that preaches the gospel of Satan in lieu of the gospel of Christ.4 This article highlights the false teachings a.k.a satanic doctrines that many churches preach today. A church that preaches one or more of these concepts is yielding to the control of Satan and not the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is an excerpt from that article:

            “Overemphasis of Prosperity: Carnal prosperity preachers encourage God’s people to seek after riches—or to seek after God for the purpose of riches—often even judging your spirituality by the kind of car you drive. What does that have to do with the gospel of Jesus?

            Hyper-Grace Teachings: They rightly teach that Jesus died for all our sins—past, present and future—but wrongly conclude that as believers we no longer have to deal with sin (meaning we never have to confess sin or repent of sin, and the Holy Spirit no longer convicts us of sin).

            Antinomianism: In practice, it means that “anything goes,” since Jesus has set us free. The problem is, Jesus didn’t set us free to sin; He set us free from sin.

            Deification of Man: Many false teachings today start with man rather than with God. In contrast, when Paul laid out the gospel message in Romans, he started with God and then went to man: God is holy and we are not; He is righteous and we are not; we are under His judgment and in need of mercy, and that mercy comes through the cross.

            Challenging the Authority of the Word: Best-selling authors tell us the biblical text isn’t reliable, that the biblical manuscripts we have in our possession are hopelessly contradictory, and that we can know little or nothing about the real, historical Jesus. Other authors tell us that the Bible is no more than a collection of religious traditions and that God Himself is nothing more than a religious myth.

            Rejecting Hell: Nowhere is this questioning of God’s Word seen any more clearly than when it comes to the subject of hell and future punishment. And because we preach an imbalanced gospel—emphasizing God’s love and ignoring His wrath, emphasizing His mercy and ignoring His justice—we no longer have room for hell and future punishment in our theology.

            Universal Reconciliation: Universal reconciliation promotes a get-out-of-jail-free mentality—that in the end, everyone will make it into heaven because of Jesus’ death on the cross. (In contrast, universalism teaches that all paths lead to God.) There may be future suffering, but it will be purging rather than punishment, and ultimately everyone will be saved.”5

            We could go on and on about how pastors deem their ministry as a money-making occupation than as a service rendered to the Lord and HIS people. We could also speak much about the lay leaders of the church who merely use their leadership position as an opportunistic projection of their personal glory in the mould of the Pharisees during Christ’s time, instead of glorifying God.

            Let us also not think that the larger (mega) churches where hundreds and thousands of people congregate to worship are godlier than the smaller congregations. In fact, there are more chances for the mega churches (with its greater access to the seductive material resources) to yield to the Satan than the smaller churches.

            So what do we do?

            We need to be the agents of change in the local church says theologian R.C Sproul, “…We’re the church that God ordained from the foundation of the world. We’re His people; we’re His household, so let the church be the church.

            We’re living in a time of crisis…but if we want to be concerned for our nation and culture, our priority must be the renewal of the church. We are the light of the world.

            …Change in culture doesn’t always come from the top down. It often comes from the bottom up. The change we need to work for, chiefly, is renewal within the church…We must remember who we are, who the foundation is, who the cornerstone is, who the head of our building is, who the Lord of the church is.

            Do we love the church? I doubt if there have been many times in our history when there has been as much anger, hostility, disappointment, and disillusionment with the institutional church as there is today. It’s hard not to be critical of the church because in many ways the church has failed us. But if the church has failed, that means we have failed. We are called to serve the church in the power of God the Holy Spirit.

            We, the church, have been made for this task by the indwelling presence and power of God’s Spirit. Yet, we are called not so much to rise up but to bow down. And if we bow down to our Lord, as Paul says in Ephesians 3:14, the church will be the church, and our light will pierce the darkness.”6

            How do we make this change in our churches?

            First, it is impossible to know the error if we do not know the truth. In other words, we ought to read and study the Bible. This is our personal responsibility.

            Second, change is a slow process. Change should be effected by God and not us. God is the source of all blessings. We are mere channels. Hence, we need to prayerfully align ourselves with God in order to know what to do and when to do. Since change is always slow, patience ought to be our key attribute and prayer is a means to that attribute.

            Third, change would only be effective if administered with humility, love and grace. Therefore, we ought to be humble, loving and gracious with everyone in this process.

            Finally, administering love and grace in a spirit of humility does not imply a condition of being politically correct. Truth needs to be spoken out loud and clear. Those who stand for truth cannot be politically correct. Feathers would be ruffled, tough stance ought to be taken, but more importantly, every aspect of change ought to be guided by the Spirit of God, who is the wisdom of God.

            Staying away from church is not an option. Let us by the power of the Holy Spirit make a positive change in our church. Amen.

Endnotes:

Websites referenced here were last accessed on 14/July/2016

1 http://www.brutallyhonest.org/brutally_honest/2005/02/whats_wrong_wit.html

2 https://www.barna.org/barna-update/culture/698-10-facts-about-america-s-churchless#.V4YShvl95hE

3 http://crossexamined.org/the-seeker-church-protestant-roman-catholicism/

4 http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/from-the-frontlines/39026-the-7-great-lies-in-the-church-today  



6 http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/what-church/  

5 comments:

Soc Wor said...

If the church Preaches the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. The people will come to the church.No need for the church to run after people.

Denny Benjamin said...

Agree with your comments.

Being wronged does not mean staying away except if it is sexual or financial misconduct where it then becomes a law and order issue.

We have to be renewed by the Spirit and then pray for our church/es. Yes talk about it in a spirit of humility and love.

Also non-evangelism removes the grace of God from our vocabulary and makes us focus on maintaining the status quo.

Again don't stay away from church. Because one person makes a difference to those who are seeking and lost. Be that one person. God be with you!

Raj Richard said...

I agree, Soc Wor...Good point...If the church operates by the power of the Holy Spirit, then it would not go wrong, would it?

Raj Richard said...

Well said, Denny. Many thanks for sharing your valuable thoughts. God is with you..remain blessed brother

Soc Wor said...

Yes. I have seen a group called Divine retreat centre from Potta Kerala (www.drcm.org) transform the Catholic Church in India through the Holy Spirit ministry. Now they are embarking in world wide missions to transform the world.