I admit it. I am kind of hard on the Church. But I have a good reason, I promise!
I Love the Church!
And that is why I am hard on her. She may be misguided at times. She may cause me to hang my head occasionally. But I believe in her. I can look into the future and see the possibility of what she can become. She may frustrate me, but I will always fight for her! So, it may seem that I am harsh at times. But my comments are mere loving instruction for a Church that I care for deeply.
Bill Hybels has said the local Church is the hope of the world. I agree with all my heart. Here is how we say it at Phosphorus Project.
We believe that we, the church, are the means in which God chooses to operate in the world.
-The Phosphorus Manifesto
But, we don’t see this often, do we? Let’s just put it out there…. the Church has become stale.
In John 10:10, Jesus says that He came to bring us full life. But how many churches look like they are filled with life today? Instead, church feels like that bread that’s been in my cabinet too long. It was amazing at first! Have you ever made a peanut butter sandwich with fresh (I’m talkin‘ FRESH) bread and an ice cold glass of milk? Probably the greatest thing on the planet! Remember when church felt like that? You couldn’t get enough. You soaked it all in. But over time, the freshness has worn off. Just like that bread in your cabinet, you keep holding onto it, hoping that one day it will be useful for something!
So, what happened? Here are 3 things that I feel have taken the freshness out of our churches.
Three Reasons the Church has become Stale
- We stopped listening
I’ve heard Perry Noble say that the Church is answering questions that people are not asking. What does this mean? We aren’t listening to people. I do believe Christian education and Bible knowledge is important. Small groups are great for this. But people have problems and they are looking for answers. We explain things like the difference between sanctification and justification. But there is a man sitting there Sunday morning thinking, “My wife said she is going to leave me. Can God help me with that?”
We need to listen to the needs and the questions of people and then answer with the Faith, Hope, and Love of Jesus.
- We stopped sharing
I can’t stand “plastic church”. But every week in churches across the country, the service feels like it is run by the Stepford wives! Life is tough, but everyone smiles and act as if everything is ok. Give me a church that takes on the grittiness of life!
Church, let us return to authenticity. Look at the Bible. The Church was a hot mess! They made so many mistakes! Why? Because the Church is filled with people. And people are messy. Let us be honest and open. Yes, we are all a mess. But that is beautiful!
The Church is a beautiful mess!
- We stopped doing
Finally, many Christians have stopped doing. I am guilty of this more times than I care to admit. There is a lot of talk of “being”. But we cannot forget about the “doing”. Love does.
We live in a culture that praises action and social justice. Our culture admires those that step out and care for the less fortunate. And while organization after organization has sprung up to do their part in healing the world, the Church has become silent.
But let us return to our roots. Jesus gave us a simple strategy: share your faith by taking care of people’s needs. Love doesn’t sit back and talk about the pain of the world. Love does something about it.
I truly believe that if we, as the Church, begin to listen again, share our lives with authenticity, and care for others through our actions, the staleness will wear off and fresh life will return!
Do you have something to add? Add one thought to the comments below of how you think we could bring life back to the Church.