Tuesday is for Preaching
The church in America is sick. She has buildings and schools and Bible Colleges and Seminaries. Dozens of parachurch organizations exist to help her accomplish her mission, magazines and books continue to pour forth from her publishers. Whole new genres have developed from Christian novels to Christian music, Christian Comedy, Christian radio, even Christian exercise (whatever that is). All manner of new organizations exist to poll it, survey it, promote it, analyze it, strengthen it, grow it and yet with all of these resources, the Church in America is sick and getting sicker.
Part of the problem is that we spent so much of the 80 and 90’s pickling ourselves in the vinegar of “relevance” and how to market the church, that we lost Jesus. We found systems, and programs, and perspectives, and approaches, and models. We copied and adapted from one another, and tweaked and adjusted material and curriculum trying to grow our churches and reach the unchurched. We found hip, and relevant, and contemporary, and cutting edge, and creative, and unique (ha!), but we lost Him in whom our life resides (Phil. 1:21); we lost the One without whom we can do nothing (John 15:5).
We lost our first love in the pursuit of a love for ministry and significance.
But it is only lovers, real lovers of Jesus who can tell others about Him and our churches are filled with consumers of a Christian-flavored-life rather than Christ-is-my-life kind of people. It’s why Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him (John 21:15-19). It’s why He stands outside the Laodicean church in Revelation asking if their love is hot (Rev. 3:14-22). It’s His criticism of the church at Ephesus who allowed their love … abandoned their first of Him, for a true but cold orthodoxy (Rev. 2:1-7).
Pastor, church planter, brother, sister, admit your sickness. If you want your church to be more than it is, get on your knees and ask God for a deeper love for Him and keep getting down on your knees until one day you rise with a passion that finds all its joy in Him. Quoting John Piper, it’s still true, “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.”
If we don’t do that, if we remain satisfied with the status quo, we will only peddle a Christ-flavored-life not the real Christ who wants to change the world. We are called to be heralds of the King and His Kingdom not peddlers of Christ-flavored knockoffs. The world needs heralds not peddlers.
5 thoughts on “Consumers of a Christian-flavored-life”
Your middle section on systems in the church reminded me of the opening lines of E.M. Bounds – Power Through Prayer:
“WE are constantly on a stretch, if not on a strain, to devise new methods, new plans, new organizations to advance the Church and secure enlargement and efficiency for the gospel. This trend of the day has a tendency to lose sight of the man or sink the man in the plan or organization. God’s plan is to make much of the man, far more of him than of anything else. Men are God’s method. The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men”
So much truth in these words. Amazingly, the book only gets better from there 🙂
Your post inspired me to write the poem below. I will probably do a second part to present a solution when I have more time. But great post.
When you ask, do I love you?
I sort through ripped up pieces of paper for answer
And hold my breath you believe it
Truth is I feel like a scrap Christian
Like a detached piece of something that used to be appetizing
Leftovers of what used to be nourishment
I’m eating only Christian-life-flavored junk food
And watching my soul rot like cavities in my smile
Forgetting that the best food is fresh food
Dug up and dusted off right out of the earth
Fruit right off the vine is where you get real substance
But I’m only a splinter off the tree
I’m only a fraction of a piece
A dotted line cut-out version
That didn’t get traced right
Like some scrap paper I’m incomplete
Crumpled up and tossed aside in defeat
Not enough words on the page to answer
Do I love you?
Well I used to
But I feel like a scrap of paper ready to be discarded
Because so much of the whole has been already disregarded
bah, an answer*
Thanks for reading. I am honored. I like the poem and look forward to its second half and resolution. You have a great way of expressing raw honesty son. Keep at it and keep seeking the Savior. Proud of you.
Brought these over from Facebook to add to the discussion:
Lesley Stephens Really enjoy reading your blog.
22 hours ago · Like
Marty Schoenleber Jr Thanks Lesley. My prayer is that it encourages all of us to live passionately for and like Jesus and to explore every day just what that means.
21 hours ago · Like
Ruth Pinciotti Shegda This is fantastic!
7 hours ago · Like
Darlene Cooke Can’t believe how beautifully this parallels our current ongoing study, “Not A Fan: Becoming a Committed Follower of Christ”….God’s timing is soooo great. Perfect for each of His ‘kids’.