Last month I wrote about how the church must move forward with cultural and societal progress. In keeping with the “Sizzler” metaphor, the church must be creating new restaurants or even restaurant chains, because the “Sizzler” as we know it is dying. The problem is pretty clear and any objective person can validate that churches are closing their doors daily and if research proves correct, doors will continue to close rapidly.
At the end of my article last month I raised the question of change and specifically what can/should the church change. Everyone assumes when a young pastor blogs about churches changing that he is a foolish kid who devalues Scripture, Christian morality, and Christian causes. That being said, allow me to continue with my recommended changes.
First and foremost, the church must change who is in charge. Many reading this may agree. You’re thinking… “Yes! We need a new pastor!” Or maybe you’re a pastor and you’re thinking, “If I could rid this church of Deacon Jones or Bitter Betty, then we could make some changes.” While there is some validity in the fact that pastors, deacons, and congregants can make change trouble for the church, the point isn’t about any short-sighted human imposing his or her will on the church. The point is that God must be in charge. In the letter to the church of Colossae, Paul reminds us that Jesus is the head of the body, the church. Most problems with inward focused and dying churches is simply that they have drifted from abiding in Christ to defending His honor.
Secondly, we must change what we stand on and for. Many dying churches are diligent in defending the honor of Christ and His ethical expectations for society. The passion surrounding the honor of Christ is noble, but the problem is that it mistakes what Christ did Himself. For instance, we tend to fight over social issues, the color of church carpet, and the style of music when Jesus never spoke of the issue at hand. And while we mine the Bible for ammo in our position, we miss the entire point that Jesus (God) came to Earth, lived in poverty and oppression, died a rebel’s death, and rose from the dead for His glory in the recreation of a broken world. Luke tells us clearly that Jesus came for a simple reason, to seek and save the lost. (Luke 15) We have forgotten that the church is on Earth to glorify God by continuing His mission for people outside of our fellowship. We must stand on and be about reaching people with truth. It should drive our budgets, buildings, styles, and dreams for our church.
Lastly, we must change our attitudes toward outsiders. We are guilty of viewing people outside of church as hopeless and incapable of conforming to the Christian ethical and moral status of “blood bought, Bible believing Christians”. I perceive that the attitude of many “churched” people is that we don’t believe God can change people. For instance, how many times have you hesitated to invite someone to church because you knew they were cheating on their spouse, they were on a weekend drunk, or they used the f-word. If we believe that God genuinely wants to change people and to use the church to do it, then we will not only invite sinful people to church, but we won’t be afraid of walking with them in dark, sinful, and ugly times.
Are you ready to build a new restaurant chain?