PACIFYING YOUR FAITH?
Before you get your hackles up and jump to conclusions that I am about to condemn the church and suggest some weird new-age alternative, let me say that I love the church. Jesus loves the church. The gathered and scattered body of believers that many describe as the "Big C" church is what the Bible calls the bride of Christ. That being said, so much of what the modern, western church is now, is not what the church was then.
Somewhere along the way in modern Christianity, it seems like the goal has shifted. For generations of old, the aim was to help people get to know and follow Jesus personally. But over the years things have shifted. Fewer and fewer Christians express a sense of confidence that they truly believe they are on track following Jesus personally. They may not doubt their salvation, but when it comes to really thinking of themselves as actual disciples of Jesus, the doubts creep in. What do people do when they don't feel super confident about something? I can tell you one thing they don't do - try and tell others how to do it.
Over the years "church" has taken on a role that it was never intended to have. To be the sum of most Christians' complete faith experience. Yes, they go to church. Yes, they attend studies or groups. But apart from the church, many are lost, or simply uninterested in learning the Bible or actually following Jesus in their everyday lives.
The "church" continues to try to teach you how to think, how to behave, who to care for, how to handle those you don't care for, etc. But for the believer relying only on what they glean from the church, it's not enough. So many Christians happily let others study, read, and explain the Bible to them. Ironically the very thing that Martin Luther and other famous reformers fought for is the very thing that tens of thousands of people are happy to do without now - the opportunity to read and study God's word for themselves.
Yes, I'm making many "generalized" statements and stirring the pot just a little. It's not meant to pick a fight with the "church". It's only meant to grab you for a minute, get your blood pumping, get you thinking, and question if any of this might be true for you.
It's true there are so many wonderful things people find at church. Important things. Community. Friends. Places to serve others. Often times it's a place where they feel needed. But these are all things people can find in so many great organizations. Boys and Girls Clubs, The Rotary Club, Kiwanis, etc. Nearly every community has groups or organizations where people can serve, feel needed, find friends, and build community.
WE BELIEVE The trouble comes when the church merely pacifies you with good things that are "less than" the "real thing."
The real thing is a vibrant, growing, personal relationship with Jesus. An appetite for God's word. A zeal to grow and understand the Bible and a passion to personally walk out what you're learning.
Far too many people are drawn towards God, only to go to church and simply stall out. Years later, are they actually bearing any more fruit? Are they actually walking out what they've learned? For many who've been in church for some time, they would undoubtedly testify about how much more they've learned. That they indeed know more about the Bible and about Christianity than they did when they came. Here in lies another subtle trick of the enemy. Merely knowing more about the Bible doesn't actually result in a more mature Christian. In fact, what we've learned over the last 50 years is that the come-and-listen model of the church hasn't multiplied disciples. Instead, churches have closed and continue to do so so at increasing rates year after year.
Wrestling with all of this personally has been at the heart of the new adventure my wife and I are on. An adventure in following Jesus, studying the Bible, and praying for the courage to live out what we're learning. It's something we sensed God calling us to stand up and invite others to do with us. To teach the bible in a unique and engaging way, to connect people to God's word and to Jesus. To come alongside people and help them learn the Bible. To help them get to know Jesus and encourage them to follow Him personally. And to help them invite their friends and family to do the same.
More on the nuts and bolts of that process in the weeks to come. How do you plant an "online church"? Is an "online church" even a church? And how does it actually work?
I'll wrap this one up by saying, the intent isn't to highlight one church being right and another wrong. Instead, this is a way for us to share some things we are processing and working through. As well as things we've seen and experienced along our own personal journeys. And ultimately we hope that reading this prompts you to evaluate your own walk with Jesus. Not so much about evaluating your church, but rather, thinking through how well you know Jesus, how much you trust Him, and how confidently you follow Him personally. But if something I wrote in here has stirred your heart, made you mad, or got you excited - Please reach out, and let's visit!
You can reach me at email@example.com