Recently a man wrote to me expressing his disillusionment with the Church. He said that he become “jaded and cold towards Western Christianity.” Does he have reason or a foundation for his thinking?
Over the last 25 years we have seen a number of evangelical proponents become concerned for the “un-churched” and making every effort to get them into the pews. Sounds laudable, but getting people into the pews is not the same as bringing them into the kingdom. But, some will say, you need them in the pews to bring them into the kingdom. I think you will find that a good proportion of people are introduced to the Christian faith through the life or testimony of another individual.
In their attempt to reach these “un-churched” people, the same segment of the church has attempted to make things easier for those outside to feel accepted, encouraging them to come into church. To do this, services have been adapted to make people comfortable both with the environment and the program. This has also included the sermon or message given by the pastors. In their desire to present a “loving” God and keep people within that comfort zone, there has been a decided moving away from preaching doctrine, or theology. This, it is thought, would be too heavy for non-believers to handle.
To authenticate this point we know a gentleman who recently went to preach at an evangelical church not far from us, and just before he went into the pulpit he was told, “Oh, by the way, we don’t speak about sin in out church anymore!” My concern is this. How can people be brought into faith if the whole truth of the Gospel is not presented?
Our gentleman friend who is disillusioned also referred to people in church as customers or consumers wanting more for their money. What a sad perception? The Church is not in the business of selling a product. The people who need the Gospel are not consumers. This is not like going to some spiritual supermarket to choose what items you need each week.
The Gospel is not for sale and therefore should not be “marketed” as such. The Gospel is a gift bringing the solution to man’s need and offering a personal relationship with God. The Church is not offering an antidote to man’s social and economic problems, even if many are resolved through the application of the Gospel. This is not the offering of a panacea to all of man’s needs. This is simply not all about the recipient and his benefits, but about the grace of God bringing to man undeserved salvation.
I don’t know about you but I believe people outside, and inside, the church want to see something which is real. They want to know exactly what the church believes. They want to know what it stands for. They want to see a faith which has application in all situations. They want to hear biblical truth.
And on the personal level I believe people want to experience genuine love and acceptance from others who know what they believe and will stand up for what they believe. I would like to be found among those people because, for me, it would be a spiritual tragedy if I was the cause of any disillusionment in another person. How about you?