Saturday, July 28, 2007

It's Not About the Bible - Pt 2

I guess we need to start with some definitions.

  • The Church is, biblically speaking, the body of Christ or the bride of Christ or the body of believers/those who belong to Christ. (See Eph 2:20-22; Col 1:18; Heb 3:6; 1Cor 12:12ff)
  • The Church is NOT the building. The Church CAN meet in a building. The building doesn't have to have a steeple. It doesn't even have to have pews.
  • For our discussion here, the term church is anything that embodies the idea of church, whether the building or the people in the building, or the things that go on inside the building, i.e. preaching, The Ten Commandments, formality implied by dress or structure of a "church service."
  • Unchurched. That's just another way of saying unsaved or non-Christians. (Some might even use the term pagan.)

Some--and I said SOME--churches today are doing everything they can to avoid looking "church." I've already chronicled some of the ways they accomplish that in my previous post. The argument is that they are being evangelistic by getting "unchurched" people (UP's) to come to venues/activities where they are more comfortable. This sounds like bait-and-switch to me. The new church planters say they are not changing the message, just the method. Sounds good, at first. But what are they really saying/doing?

So, the new church planters go and find out what turns people off about church and then build their church around the opposite of those things. The problem is they've missed the point. I said it before, and I'll say it again: It's not about the church. It's not about the Bible.

So what is it? It is about hatred for God. The UP's (at least the ones I've encountered) are looking for something that makes them feel good about the way they live now! They want to give themselves and/or their children a "spiritual foundation," but they don't want it to be "churchy." They don't want someone or anything telling them what to do. "Just tell me how to fell better about my marriage. Tell me how to get a better job. Help me find some new friends. AND DON'T TELL ME I'M A SINNER." Their God is themselves, their opinion, their own standard. That's a violation of the First and Second Commandments:

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me (Exodus 20:3-5)

What the UP's need is for people to quit lying to them; quit trying to sucker them into church. They need to hear that God is love; but they also need to hear that He doesn't tolerate sin. They need to hear that He is a jealous God and that He will not "share" His rightful place with anyone or anything else. Don't sugar-coat it; don't down-play it. Just tell the Truth. Tell them ABOUT the Truth (John 14:6).

Here's the deal. Before God regenerates any of us--NONE of us want anything to do with God, church, the Bible, etc. Our hearts are dead to those things (1 Cor 2:14; Eph 2:5). We shouldn't be surprised that UP's "don't like church"--neither did we at one point. But God "made us alive," drew us to Himself and gave us the desire/ability to cry out to Him for salvation (Eph 2:8-9).

Our job IS NOT to try and make church appealing to UP's--because we already know it ISN'T!

So how do we reach the UP's with the Gospel? We take it to them--just like Jesus said: "Go out..." (Matthew 28:19-20) We take the Gospel to them in our words, our actions, our attitudes at work, etc. To quote Bill Hybels: "[Just] walk across the room."

The UP's are most certainly welcome in our worship services. We want them to come if they will, but that shouldn't change what we do because they might come. We want them to hear the glorious songs of praise to our Almighty God. We want them to hear the prayers for healing, for encouragement, for peace. We want them to hear the Word, unashamedly preached. We want them to feel welcomed. We want them come back. We want them to be saved. That's what church and the Bible are about.


nacotaco said...

Hi Keith I have read and reread and thought about what you have said and this is my opinion.........I was one of the unchurched I was saved and and desperatly trying to find my way ...I first found Jesus thru CBN and watched televangelist alot, believing fairy tales mystical Dad told me I would be healed if I had enough much confusion the first year. I would read the Bible and not understand so many contradictions. Being disabled I couldn`t go to many different churches[it is physically tiring and people are uncomfortable around wheelchairs] and many are not wheelchair disabled contrary to what they think. Also thrown into finding a church my husband is a native american catholic who holds on to his beliefs and has disdain for Jesus Freaks or born-again christian. The only time you go to church is when someone dies, gets married and maybe a few baptisms[baby]. I had to find a church that my husband would go with me[dress was an issue no money for nice clothes, and disabled people have a dress code loose easy no buttons hooks are zippers and my husband very very casual] and most importantly my kids would go to find Jesus. It had to be a church that was about God Jesus and the Bible. I WAS a catholic sort of and disliked church immensely when I was 8-16. So I had a lot of issues with going to church tithing etc... Ironically my husband found TCC [the cool church]I prayed and prayed for a year and waited and when we finally went the first time.......It had not letting that stand in my way I slowly and carefully made my way up somewhat embarressing and finally made it into church. Live Band which caught the attention of my husband[ all music written by the pastor and band members with passages taking right out of the bible] Tv`s about 7 in the church so you can read the words they are singing....Pastor David on live feed from the west side.....I tell you everything everything I had prayed for all the mountains were leveled that day I finally went to church. I was born again sitting there and believing in miracles because I was finally able to go to church. It has been a year and I have missed one sunday[a fall] and there is a ramp in the back door which is great because my 4 year old daughter and 14 yr old sons classes are back there so I am sure they are where there suppose to be. I have stopped believing in fairy tales and mysterious things because Pastor feels it is very important to know the facts about God Jesus and the Bible. I read daily and would like to attend more but my husband is still sitting on the fence......but I pray daily about that! I listen to the radio 7-5 every day I visit many christian sites and some who say they are but are not and can discern them finally! So the church met our needs and I do believe that God led my husband there and eventually he will accept Jesus. My kids are my most focused mission now, I have told them my biggest accomplishment will be when they accept Jesus and follow him....then college etc. I would like to go more often but the ramp is unaccessible to me by myself. The new church is being built so I have high hopes to being able to access that by myself. I just wanted to let you know Keith there are churches out there for people like me the unchurched who are different and I am so grateful that I am included and belong not only to God but to God`s church.

Keith said...

I think that's great you've come to Christ! And that you've found a church that teaches/preaches the Bible. My concern is NOT so much about WHAT a person wears (casual versus "dress-up") as it "WHY?". In SOME circles/churches, it's not about "this is all I can afford" or "this is the best I have" but more "nobody's going to tell me what to do."

I have some very good friends that came out of the Catholic church. It has been very difficult for them.

Our family left a church that--in my opinion--compromised in order to get more people in the door. The preaching became weak, they spent too much time and money trying to come up with different ways to "do church." Just preach, I say. God's Word is powerful and will accomplish exactly what He intends.

Again, I've NEVER said "unchurched" people are not welcome. I want unsaved people to go to church (they don't HAVE to go there to "find Christ", but it certainly doesn't hurt!). I just don't want them to go to a church that is weak in it's teaching or is not based on the Word/sound doctrine. That includes all types of "churches."

I'll be praying for your husband and your children that God will draw them to Himself and they will be saved.

Have a great week.

PS: I hope they get that ramp built for you REAL SOON!

nacotaco said...

Thank*you for your prayers Keith, when I came to Christ it was thru televangelist and the foundation wasn`t so good. The first thing that starts is tithing but it is called sowing seeds, the more you give the more you get....healing only comes by faith and giving more gets you more. I still get enevelopes about putting prayer cloths or crosses and they seem very knowledgeable about the Bible and much of the information is about healing getting money or answered prayers. Going to church a good church that peaches from the bible about God gives me a much firmer foundation and keeps me from giving and walking away. My family**mother*2 sisters*2brothers where in "the door" in 1980 "potters house" and just recently walked away. 2 brother in laws were pastors of churchs they started in Phoenix **Amarillo, TX**Colorado**Bisbee, AZ all these years they were involved there kids as young as 2-3 handing out tracts[graphic cartoons of hell] to people in the parking lots at stores. My sister who has this disease is the only one left in the church now. So I really needed to find a church to be in to answer my questions of which I have many! Most importantly though my kids have a strong foundation to make the right choices. My husband and I smoked for 24 years and that is what I passed on to our oldest son who is 28......looking back now I see the mistakes .....he doesn`t know Jesus either.....guidelines and foundations are so important in a childs life. What do you think of church`s that have so much going on there isn`t time for family life? I feel guilty for not volunteering or going more often, I would like to but am pretty dependent on my husband getting us there and back. He warns me about getting too involved but I understand he`s not there yet. Again Keith thank*you for praying it comforts me to know someone cares! Nancy

Keith said...

That is too bad members of your famliy have left the church. It happens. Maybe they burned out or maybe...and I'm not saying this is THE reason, because I don't know your family, but maybe...they weren't saved to begin with. Jesus talked about people that appeared to be His followers, but really weren't in John 6. When He began to explain what it cost to follow Him, some of them said: "That's too hard"--and they quit following. (John 6:66) I hope that is not the case with them.

Maybe it's related to your question: What do you think of church`s that have so much going on there isn`t time for family life? I think that most churches are the same: 10 percent of the people do 90 percent of the work. If you volunteer, they'll work you...sometimes to death! I believe that true Christians will want to serve in the church (among other things). Sometimes, as it appears in your case, they are not physically able to do so. God knows and understands that. But others, they just keep saying "yes" and the church keeps piling it on and then one day--they can't do it anymore. I used to be like that. I volunteered for EVERYTHING. I was gone 4 - 5 - sometimes 6 nights a week. It takes a HUGE toll on your family. I learned a very hard lesson--a long and boring story--but I don't do that, now. I teach an Adult Sunday School class and administer our church's website. That's it. I have a day job, and a family. I can't neglect them just to be involved in the "church garage sale" or whatever activities they may have every week.

Keep being a Godly example to your husband and your children. They will see Jesus in your attitude and your actions. If and when God saves, He does so on his own schedule. It's hard to be patient, I know, but just keep praying and witnessing to your family. God will honor that.

Have a great weekend.

nacotaco said...

Thanks Keith I will! Have a great weekend to!

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