What If Our Churches…?

Maybe it’s time to admit that we’re broken! As Christians, we live in a culture that appears increasingly secular and uninterested in the gospel our churches have to offer… and maybe we just don’t have as much of that gospel to offer as we would like to believe.

Yesterday I posted an article titled Reasons Why Your Church Isn’t… It was a response to an article titled Why Church Members Don’t Invite Others to Church in which the Christians involved in the study seemed to cast blame on their church as to why they’re not participating. My post was intended to counter that blame because it is easy for Christians who are not involved in the ministry of their church to just place the blame on their church, when in fact they are part of the problem.

But the truth is that yesterday’s post does little to nothing in terms of offering a better way forward. So it’s time to shift the conversation back to Jesus.

A Different Way!

Do we know how to follow Jesus? Learning to follow Jesus is where we need to begin. After all, it is the invitation Jesus extends us. After commanding us to “repent and believe the gospel,” he invites us to embrace the challenge of being his disciple saying, “Follow me…” (Mk. 1:14, 17).

Now we can point the blame at each other for the problems facing our churches. Church leaders, like myself, can say it’s the fault of members who want to just sit in worship as consumers attempting to feed an appetite that will never be satisfied. Likewise, church members can blame the leadership for the lack of vision and courage as they keep trying to pour new wine into old wineskins in order to avoid upsetting the status quo too much. Ministers can blame the elders, who blame the deacons, who blame the ministers… and round and round we go.

But really, what good is blaming one another doing? I don’t recall reading any “one another” passages in the Bible that says we should blame one another.

Perhaps what we need is to take a step or two back and ask ourselves what does it mean to follow Jesus? What would it look like if we followed Jesus together? What would it look like if we change our expectations (repent) of what the entire church stuff is supposed to be and live with anticipation (believe) of seeing God at work (the kingdom of God at hand) as we follow Jesus together? What kind of activities would we then do together? What sort of things would we need to let go of in order to follow Jesus again?

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4 responses to “What If Our Churches…?

  1. So, true! There aren’t any blame one another passages.

  2. We have an advantage in Eastern Orthodoxy. The Legacy of the lives of the Saints that is recognized and honored daily in all the Churches points out very clearly what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, and to become a Saint, not just a good person- but a participant in the Divine Nature. And the Tradition that made the Saints Saints when participated in is also intact, the Mysteries of the Sacraments, the Communion of Saints, the redemption of art and time and architecture, Scripture and its interpretation, the Apostolic Succession, the Anamnesis of Christ breathed into the Church by the Holy Spirit

    • Ben,

      How does the Orthodox tradition (belief) work itself out into practice? That’s the question I’m more interested. Even though I am perhaps being over-simplistic here, we all believe Jesus is the Lord and Messiah (regardless of our church tradition) but how does that conviction work itself out into practice among ourselves and the neighborhoods we live in? I might be wrong but I don’t think any church tradition has a creed on the practice of discipleship, nor should they.

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

  3. I would suggest beginning with simple things. I would start by reading from the Bible every Sunday during the service. You might not want to go with the revised common lectionary; however, I would do something similar where an entire paragraph of the Old Testament, Psalm, epistle, and gospel were read. During the time Of the reading of the gospel I would ask that the congregation rise out of respect. Much can be learned by ordinary people just sitting in the pews if they hear the Bible read intact. I have heard portions of the gospel and some parts of the letters that I did not know were there and went “wow, this is still relevant” or “these characters were real humans who spoke in complete sentences and asked questions too.”

    This can become a sore subject around certain times of the year such as Palm Sunday, Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas. However, the actual events are all in the bible.

    On another blog once, some people of whom I was one asked if certain churches were scared of reading the Bible out loud and intact. This may sound strange but the answer came back as probably. Perhaps it would have changed the ideas and some thinking that was different from the long-used proof texts.

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