It could be argued that my previous blog was rather critical of the Republican party. My intention in this blog is to be equally "critical" of another organization about which I am very passionate - the church. That's right, I represent the perfect storm or collision of the two topics that no one wants to discuss in public, politics and religion.
So I believe, much like conservatives are bewildered about the Republican party, many in our society are also bewildered about religion and a faith in some type of god. As the Republican party should fill in the blanks for bewildered conservatives, so should the Christian church fill in the blanks for those that are spiritually bewildered. Therefore, after making a few foundational statements, I'd like to share with you three things that I believe the Christian church needs in order to attract people - saved and lost alike.
First let me say that the items listed below must come after the foundational elements described in the Bible that are necessary to experience revival. After all, a revival is that to which I'm referring when I say the church needs to make changes for the purpose of attracting people. No one is attracted to what appears by all external indicators to be a dead (or at a minimum stale) organization, therefore the Christian church needs to be revived in order to gain the attention that would persuade commitment. I won't go into the ingredients of revival described in the Bible except to say repentance is a must. 2 Chronicles 7:14 describes repentance and is followed by the promise of healing or revival from God.
That said, let's dive into what I believe a 3 great needs of the Christian church.
There is a great void of leadership in the Christian church today. This is true of the paid staff (ministers) within the church as well as the congregation of the church, yet leadership in both areas is vital to the success of carrying out the mission of the church.
This lack of leadership starts with the church staff, in the pulpit if you will. Many pastors are quick to cite scripture that limits their responsibilities to preaching the Word (2 Timothy 4:2) while completely overlooking scriptures that requires them to shepherd the flock (1 Peter 5:2). A shepherd does not tell a herd of sheep where to go, a shepherd leads a herd of sheep to where they are to go. I am not at all downplaying the role of preaching in the responsibilities of a pastor, but pastors need also understand they are responsible to lead. I think this lack of leadership starts in our seminaries. No doubt large focus is placed on the practice of preaching, the disciplines of Bible study, and an understanding of the original languages; however a great disservice is done when seminaries fail to teach pastoral students the essentials of leadership. The church needs more leadership exhibited within the pastoral ranks.
Likewise, the typical congregation within churches is lacking in leadership. A pastor or even several church staff members can not fulfill the mission of the church alone. It is very necessary and even God's plan that members of the congregation with the gift of leadership exercise that leadership within the church. In fact, the reference mentioned above (1 Peter 5:2) was written to the elder (or leaders) of the church. Now I find it hard to believe that among the hundreds of people in each congregation across America that very few have leadership abilities. No doubt many within the congregation go to leadership positions in their workplace Monday through Friday. The church needs more leadership exhibited within the congregation.
Maybe you've heard the statement; "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." This could not be more true about the Christian church. Christians believe (rightly so) that they know how a person can receive the gift of grace that brings a person into a right relationship with God such that they will enter into heaven for eternity. However, very few people care to hear or listen to that knowledge until they are first persuaded that the church actually cares about them. The Christian church gathers in their familiar locations (classrooms & worship sanctuaries), at familiar times, with familiar people and share "like minded" conversations. All the while onlookers view them as "holier than thou do-gooders" that care nothing about including those that don't fit in. Until the Christian church demonstrates honest sincerity for those to which they are called to minister the message will enter into one ear, pick up speed, and exit the other ear. Sincerity opens up the mind and the heart, exactly what is necessary for the message to make a life impact on the hearer. The church needs to set aside the comfort zones and pray for heaven sent sincerity toward those they seek to win for the Kingdom.
Being an analytical person, this final criticism just makes absolutely no sense to me. I go off to work each weekday and face tremendous pressures to accomplish more and to do so within a very short schedule. I trust I'm not the only person that faces such pressures. In fact, I know that I'm not the only person; I am sure those that work for me often mumble comments I'd rather not know about regarding the tasks and timelines that I assign to them. Executives and leadership within our secular organizations are constantly pushing us do more, do it better, and do it faster. All this urgency for what? All this for the almighty dollar of course. Let me ask; if secular organization have such urgency for something as eternally meaningless as money, shouldn't the Christian church have much more urgency for the lost souls that couldn't be more meaningful? Visit my office and you will certainly hear conversations about how to meet lofty goals within aggressive timelines, however; visit almost any church and I challenge you to find such conversations regarding the urgency of reaching the lost. How can this be? Knowing that death can strike at any moment, if the church truly believes hell to be a real place for which the lost are bound then it can't be more hypocritical than when it demonstrate no urgency for sharing the message of Jesus.
So there we have it, 3 things needed within the Christian church in order that it can fulfill its mission. I hope you will utilize any and all influence that you have in your church to foster these 3 attributes in your church. Now, in the spirit of the third attribute, let's go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).