the disciples or early apostles were to walk into a modern day church,
would they even have a clue as to where they were?
In the past few years I have noticed some very alarming things
happening in the churches of America. I would like to say at the
outset that I am not necessarily speaking of all
by any means. That would be terribly presumptuous because I
obviously don't know all of the churches. However, my
observations, experiences, and conversations with many well
traveled and well connected fellow Christians tells me that far
too many churches are guilty of one or more of the following
oversights and transgressions.
Many churches seem to be spending way too much time, money, and
effort with their coveted "outreaches" while ignoring
the needed "in-reaches" right under their pastoral
noses. Maybe it's because it makes them sound and feel important
to have "Sidewalk Sunday Schools" or a "Feed The
Poor" drive in the inner city. Whatever the rationale, it
does not make up for the damage that is being caused by
not growing a healthy church among those people who show up at
their church on any kind of regular basis. In plain language,
these churches which are over-reaching their own hurting souls
for dubious reasons need to reach in to their own pews to insure
that the needs of their flock are being met. In most cases,
they'll find this to be a full time job.
"The Corporate Marketing Church"
There is a growing and disquieting trend in some of the modem
"progressive" churches around the country. These
churches could easily append "Inc. " to their church
name just like a business in your local office park. Unfortunately, in many cases, church has become big business and
some of them have become ultra efficient organizations in terms
of handling money, developing a corporate structure, hiring
multiple specialized leaders of various "market
segments", and, in general, functioning like a well-oiled
(not anointed) but cold-hearted machine.
Of course, this is usually done in the name of
"ministry" but somehow much ministry is lost in the
unanswered voice mail messages, the impenetrable phone menus and
the phalanx of secretaries and administrative assistants.
Somehow I can't believe that the Lord intends for His Bride to
resemble a big budget corporation or government department.
are called to be "salt and light" and "to be
about our Father's business" not act like some sort of
market research driven corporate entity focused primarily on
looking good with a snazzy logo but on "doing good"
for the people paying the bills.
"The Legalistic Church"
When a church is so large and impersonal that every person must
obtain individual permission from the leadership before they are
allowed to go the altar to pray with a hurting soul, then
something is very wrong. Even when a visiting evangelist
commands prayer warriors to "get down here and pray with
these people" and you literally must beg God to have 2
angels sit on you to keep you in the pew because you haven't
taken or completed the church's "official" training
course enabling you to be a part of the "Official Prayer
Team". And worse, if you try to pray with anyone,
you will be asked to leave because you have not earned your
This example is symptomatic of the type of legalism which is
becoming pervasive in today's churches. It all stems from a
controlling spirit which fails to recognize that all they need
to do is raise up their congregations in a natural atmosphere of
freedom to properly act in accordance with scriptural precepts
instead of living in fear that some "unauthorized"
person will do or say the "wrong" thing. Maybe that
haven't noticed that despite our litigious culture churches
don't get sued for allowing The Spirit to reign supreme.
So, where will these very real examples of church ignorance,
arrogance, and insensitivity lead us? What will be some of the
manifestations of such oversights and performance based
I'll tell you in one typical impression after leaving one of
these "modem" services designed to "give the
people what they want"- not what they need.
When did the pulpit become a stage?
When did the light of day
and the lamps by night become spot lights and state-of-the-art
lighting systems? When did the booming, resonate voice of the
pastor and undershepherd give way to a "high-tech"
sound system? And when did the beautiful voices of the people
become a well orchestrated choir to be applauded for their
I am so very grieved to the depths of my spirit for the
"lost" church. Will it be like "The Lost
Colony" where no one has a real clue about its
disappearance and it is simply recorded in history as an
unexplained mystery and life goes on? No, because we have been
given the promise that our precious Lord Jesus will return for
His Bride - His Church- without spot or wrinkle!!
More questions. Would Christ Himself even recognize the church
today? Would He grieve over what the church has become?
believe that He is grieving now over a church which is
unrecognizable with its myriad stains and wrinkles.
It is really a sad state when there are as many sheep departing
the back doors of churches as there entering the front doors.
And yet, the leaders don't seem to care about these individual
sheep as long as the size of the flock stays about the same.
But, alas, these aren't sheep but flesh and blood and soul human
beings representing families and marriages.
So, back to my original question,
"Where is the Church of Jesus
Christ?" and why do we sit in church today and even walk
out of church and feel as though we have just attended a
"production"? A beautiful, well orchestrated
production, but a production nonetheless.
Were we worshipping the Lord or just going through the 20th
century motions of "playing church" once again? Do we
come out fed or do we come out "fluffy" ? Where is the
meat? Do we come out feeling like we just exited a child's
Sunday school lesson or have we been deeply touched by the
"message"? Are our lives changed forever more -- from
glory to glory?
When was the last time you exited a church after a service and
felt the conviction of the wonderful Holy Spirit and had your
eyes opened and you knew in your heart of hearts that there was
at least one area of your life that the Lord was dealing with
and helping you get victory in? Think about it.
Maybe, in these last days, the Lord is allowing churches - from
the most dormant to the most Las Vegas style
"show" church - to fall prey to the 3 types of
ministry failures described earlier while He uses certain
"extra-church/para-church" messengers (media, home
churches, individual discipleship) to form the "core
church" of the next millennium. Maybe, just maybe, these
nontraditional entities are being raised up to do the evangelism
and possibly even the discipleship functions while the
traditional churches busy themselves with programs at the
expense of people?
Perhaps no one knows for sure, but one thing is certain. What is
now widely considered and accepted as The Church of Jesus Christ
must undergo many dramatic changes in order to fulfill its