I talk to a lot of Christian groups. I teach and lead different groups of varying sizes and groups that are meeting for a variety of purposes – discipling, mentoring, equipping, training, as well as worship services or Sunday assemblies. This is almost a daily event at this point in my life so that I am teaching as many as 7 to 10 times in any given week.
I also meet daily with both believers and non-believers. With believers I listen and minister or simply fellowship together. With non-believers I am focused on learning more about them, showing them Christ’s deep love for them and eventually (if not immediately) sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. I’m focused on seeing them enter into a life-changing, eternity-altering relationship with Jesus Christ.
A number of observations:
First, I am amazed at the number of people who state boldly that they are born again Christians and yet openingly acknowledge that they do not attend Church anywhere. Let me be quick to add that I am not judging them. I am concerned for them because they are living contrary to God’s Word (which is never good) and are not experiencing the fullness of God’s council and wisdom – some of which is only revealed corporately and not when in one’s own private prayer time or via some internet “feeding station”. However, I do understand that the Church, as it now is, fails to be attractive or inviting to many – including believers.
Secondly, I am seriously astonished at non-believers perception of the Church which leads to an atttude towards the Church that is anything but good. In 2007 Dan Kimball wrote a book entitled “They Like Jesus But Not the Church”. I agree that the Church is not sending an accurate message of what it is all about. But then, I believe that is because the average believer and the regular Church has little understanding (and no real grasp on) of what they are suppose to be all about – what the Founder has declared to be the mandate for His people. So, they do their best and they are sincere in what they do – but it often bears little resemblance to what the Lord birthed the Church to be and to do.
However, I disagree with Dan Kimball – I believe they “like Jesus” but “He” is a Jesus of their own imagination (a god created in their own image) and not the Jesus as revealed within the pages of Scriptures. As Paul states… “For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted …” (2 Corinthians 11:4) I believe that the Jesus many “like” is not the Jesus of the Bible. Not to mention that “liking” Jesus is not what this is all about – responding to His love is.
Thirdly, I am concerned about those who do attend weekly worship and whose focus has somehow remained on themselves – their needs, their wants, their hurts, their opinions. Everything that happens related to the life of the local church is filtered through this self-centered approach to Church life and thus the true focus (as well as the true purpose) of the Church is lost. The true focus is Jesus and the true purpose is to do His will which is to reach out and save the lost. Both at lost in many cases and in many churches.
Some Christians are disconnected from the Church; other Christians are disconnected from the Lord and His will although attending Church; the Church is disconnected from the reality of the battle for souls that is ongoing and daily; and the world is disconnected from the Church because it thinks the Church is irrelevant (and in its present form and format it may well be) and as a result has created a “Jesus” of its own design and a non-biblical “gospel”.
Something needs to change – and I sense that the Lord is about to make that change and it will be a rapid adjustment. I sense we are about to make a right-hand, 90 degree turn while in third gear. Whiplash anyone? There is an urgency brewing in the spiritual realm that is flowing over into the everyday life events of the Church.
In my own life – this translates to less patience with self-centered believers; a deep concern for those still anchored in their past who are letting their wounds and hurt (and thus their past) dictate their present and eliminate their future; a frustration with Christians who do not attend or participate in weekly worship in a local church; a concern for those who lack passion for both the Lord and His purpose; a sense of weariness with believers who are fed well from God’s Word and, in most cases, are hearers only and do not apply what they learning and thus do not experience life-change; and a commitment to rise to the challenge and see all of this change so that the Church can become a mighty force for world change one person at a time.
Maybe it is just me – but I sense the Lord saying “I came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10) and gave the same mandate to My Church (Matthew 28:18-20) called The Great Commission and yet the Church and individual believers are focused on anything but.
And – may I add – in the time that it took to read this blog 500 people were born, 213 have died, 145 of whom likely didn’t know Christ. In 2007, approximately 3.8 million people died who likely did not know Christ. It is time for the Church to care and for individual believers to act upon what they say they believe and become “ambassadors of Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 5:20) in their everyday world – every day!