The church of America is in trouble. It seems we’ve gotten a running start toward the dark abyss of homogenized doctrine, and the end result of our pursuit is readily visible wherein one cannot distinguish the difference between a churched world, and a worldly church. We employ gimmicks and tricks to get people in the door, but once we get them there we offer them nothing of substance, nothing of relevance, nothing of the life changing gospel of Jesus Christ.
From the pastor who promised to spend three days in a glass box atop his church if they exceeded a certain attendance ala David Blaine, to offering Ultimate Fighting on Easter Sunday, to the ever growing number of billboards that are deep and unique only in the minds of the infantile minds who penned them, we are doing everything in our power to draw people to churches, and it doesn’t seem to be working.
The reason why it isn’t working, the reason more and more people are tuning out, and refusing to turn out, is because substance is sorely lacking, and even if you can manage to get someone to attend by promising a new and exciting series on intimacy in the bedroom, they leave scratching their heads wondering to themselves if that’s what church is really supposed to be. We are running ourselves ragged trying to promote ourselves, our ministries, our churches, we are going to extremes, compromising, making concessions, hiring public relations firms, just to keep up, just to keep growing, just to continue believing the lie we’ve been telling ourselves, that we can be relevant in and of ourselves.
As much as the evidence substantiates our nagging feeling that we cannot do it on our own, but rather we must let God do it, we are stubborn and hard headed, impatient and unwilling to submit to God’s timetable. Waiting on the Lord was for the people who had time to spare! We are progressive and upwardly mobile, we have a purpose, we have a plan for growth, we have projections and pie charts, and we won’t let something as trivial as God’s will stand in the way of our vision.
The focus has shifted in this modern age from winning people to Christ, from seeing the spiritual growth and requisite discipleship transform a person from what they once were to what God desires them to be, to the number of people that show up for service on Sunday morning. We are so consumed with numbers that nothing is sacred anymore in our pursuit of filling the new sanctuary we’ve managed to build.
When we attempt to grow a work on our own, rather than allow God to grow it in His time, we are likened to someone who runs out of gas, and proceeds to try and push the car to their destination. Eventually exhaustion sets in, eventually your muscles give out, and you end up sitting by the side of the road sweating profusely, and bitter at the fact that you bought a car in good working condition, and it failed you, never once acknowledging your own foolishness for not fueling it. Jesus is the fuel, the word of God is the fuel, and if we have fuel, the ministry will run, and the church will run.
If we are to understand how God can grow a work, we need look no further than the ministry of Jesus. He was born in a Middle Eastern country, grew up in a village until the age of thirty, working in a carpenter’s shop, then for three and a half years traveled as an itinerant preacher. He had no home, no family, no public job; He did not study in any university, He had no diploma or degree, and never set foot in any of the major cities of the world. In fact he never traveled more than two hundred and fifty miles further than the place where He was born. From early youth, public opinion set itself against Him, His friends left and rejected Him, and one closest to Him betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver. He was given into the hands of His enemies who mocked and ridiculed Him, then summarily condemned Him to die on a cross between two thieves. While He hung upon a cross dying, his enemies cast lots for his only possession, a tunic, then he was buried in a borrowed tomb.
Twenty centuries have passed, yet today He is the cornerstone of human existence. All the armies that have ever marched upon this earth, all the ships that have been built, all the kings, princes, and presidents of the world, have not affected the lives of men in such a profound and impacting way as He has. He never wrote a book, but no library in the world can contain the writings that have been penned about Him. He never wrote any poetry, but is the subject of the most songs and poems ever sung or uttered. He never founded a university, He was never dean of any college, but no learning institution in the world can boast of so many disciples as He has even to this day.
He studied neither physics, philosophy, medicine nor psychiatry, but no one in the history of the world has healed as many people as He did. He never commanded an army, yet no general in history won so many rebel hearts without a shot being fired, nor have any enjoyed the astounding number of souls marching under their flags as Jesus has.
We remember the names of philosophers, of rulers, of kings and kingdoms but only for a season. Countless names have been relegated to long forgotten memories, their names no longer whispered either in anger or in love, yet somehow His name shines with every generation, the name of Jesus is still on the hearts, minds and lips of countless souls.
Pontius Pilate could not kill Him, the grave could not hold Him, death could not conquer Him, and now He sits at the right hand of God, the object of the saints’ adoration, the angels’ veneration, and the devil’s fear.
We scramble to find new programs, new gimmicks, and new means by which to draw people to the church, all the while dismissing the one sure way to bring people to the house of God that has stood the test of time. We dismiss Jesus, and this will be our own undoing.
If Jesus is not the fuel, if Jesus is not the object of our worship, teaching, exposition, and praise, whatever work we have constructed, whatever ministry we have established will come to ruination. It may work for awhile, it may be successful for a season, curiosity might make men walk through the doors once, maybe even twice, but eventually, the curiosity will fade, and the once booming congregation will wither back to a handful of souls that rather than change their attitude and the means by which they present the Gospel, will simply keep on keeping on, doing the same old thing, expecting a different result and outcome.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.