Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Church...An Irrelevant Social Club?

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the position of the church:

"There was a time when the church was very powerful, in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society... . But the judgment of God is upon the church [today] as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the 20th century." ("Letter from a Birmingham Jail")

Sounds like today's church. The church, if operating Biblically, should set the tone for society. Today, unfortunately, for many churches, society sets the tone for the church. The church has become so much like the world, sometimes it is hard to tell them apart.Today's mega-churches and "seeker friendly" churches are hiring marketing firms to market their churches. We are changing our services to meet the world's needs. Some churches offer several different "styled" services to meet everyone's needs. We design "programs" that we hope will attract people to come. Then they "water down" the message in an effort to not offend anyone. After all, they want them to come back. It seems as if we have turned church in to nothing more than a numbers game.

What the world needs is the life changing power of the truth of the Gospel. They need to experience the awesome presence of God. The Bible says that it is the truth that will set us free, not the watered down, ear tickling, seeker friendly, motivational speaking that is coming from many pulpits today. When the church resorts to giving the world what they want, rather than what they need, all we are doing is feeding their flesh rather than the emptiness that is in each one of us, that only God can fill.

If the truth of the Gospel is preached, and God is worshiped in Spirit and in truth, we will have no need for marketing or special programs. If we worshiped God until His fire fell, people would be drawn. If we would love one another and be separate from the world, people would come. They would know us by our love. Christians are in the world, but we do not have to be of the world. If we lived like we were supposed to, we would not have to tell people we were Christians, or invite them to church. They would know something was different and want what we had. They would be drawn to us. It only takes a little bit of light to disperse darkness.

The world is hungry for truth.
Today's generation has seen so much hypocrisy that they are sick of it. What they need to see is real Christianity in action. Great revivals of the past did not happen because of programs or "seeker friendly" services. They happened because someone dared to preach the Gospel with fire and the presence of God. They allowed the Holy Spirit to move and convict people of their sins. They were not afraid to preach about the sinful nature and wretchedness of man without a Savior. They were not afraid to tell of the need for repentance. They were not afraid to speak of the alternative to heaven,...Hell. They told of the loving God, but also of the just God, whom everyone WILL stand before in judgment one day.

It is my prayer that all Christians awaken. That the church can be more than "an irrelevant socil club." That the church return to operating as the Church did in the Book of Acts. With love and the POWER of God. I pray that the Lord convict hearts concerning the "watering down" of the truth.

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