The longer that I live in the Christian sub culture, the more I see that those inside the Church are not that different from many people outside of it. This makes sense because we are all in the same boat as fallen people who need a Savior. But shouldn’t we as Christians be different? Shouldn’t our faith show the reality of God’s transforming power? Shouldn’t we have different priorities than those who don’t know Christ?
Unfortunately, I believe that the world largely has done a better job of influencing us than we have of them. Do our churches today reflect more the true heart of God or the sinful, self-focused tendencies of mankind? Why do churches struggle with the basics of discipleship and evangelism when we have so many resources at our finger tips?
I believe that what we really need is a culture change. The first start is repentance. We have to realize we are headed the wrong direction. We have to stop, confess our sin and make a deliberate decision to go in another direction. This starts with church leadership. They have to identify the problem and then suggest that we all go to God for the solution.
What basis do I have for asserting that most American churches resemble the world a lot more than they reflect the glory of God? Well, I don’t have lots of hard facts to show you. But I believe you will find that my experiences reflect a large number of Christians around the country.
Here’s just a few thoughts to consider…
1.) Committed Christians are just as likely to get divorced as those outside of the Church.
2.) Church goers claim they want to connect with others, but they frequently shy away from initmacy with others due to fear of being hurt even worse.
3.) Sunday morning church services remain one of the most racially segregated activities in the country.
4.) Many churches have problems that get swept under the rug instead of dealt with in a timely manner.
5.) Christians are just as likely to remain isolated from neighbors and others in the community as those who don’t regularly go to a church.
6.) By most modern assessments of church growth, Jesus would have been a failure. He spent most of his time focused on a limited number of people and trusted that they would continue his work. Many people in the crowds rejected Jesus in the end. He never built a big ministry building, wrote a book, traveled far from home, or raised lots of money. Yet, He changed the world like no other person could do.
7.) Churches tend to put more focus on individual ministries and programs than the development of godly people. Ministries and preaching are seen as the vehicle for transformation. But the lack of real discipleship fervor in most churches is an indication that this ministry focus strategy doesn’t work well for most people.
8.) Churches tend to look inward and are reluctant to join forces to work together to achieve common, godly goals.
9.) People in church congregations set expectation for their leaders that are almost impossible to achieve, and then we fire them when they admit their weakness, failure and sin. This goes along with the tendency for Christians to look to their leaders to be the primary driver for their spiritual growth/relationship with God.
10.) Today, it seems that reason trumps faith and that convenience is valued above sacrifice. Doing with less is not something that goes over well with most congregations. Doing more by faith is even scarier proposition for people who are used to relying on their own abilities. Trusting in God is the furthest thing on the minds of many so-called Christians when they face trouble. Going to God seems to be the response of last resort not our first call.
All of the above is a gross generalization. But it is predominantly true in many Christian churches today. The problem is that those things show more of the world’s influence than a focus on God. If the Church doesn’t look different, how will the world know that we have something that they don’t have?