In part one, Brice discussed some common objections put forth by Christians who think they no longer need the church. In part two, he touches on some common problems within the church that may be feeding these objections.
I have often asked myself, “What happens to Christians to make them feel as if they don’t need the local church?” I am by no means implying that there is an exhaustive list of where we, as the church, have gone wrong, but maybe we can highlight some of the larger issues and objections.
The Bankrupt Church
In my opinion, the greatest problem facing the local Church is that she has lost too much equity with people--Christians and non-Christians alike. In our need to be relevant and fun, we have offered people a product that they can get anywhere in the world. We have pastors who are storytellers, but they are constantly being outdone by storytellers on TV and the internet. Often there is a faux rock scene in our church music that is much more corny and less “rockbandy” than what we would listen to on our radio. We offer our children video games, unhealthy food and an hour of laser lights, fog and self-help speeches. The local church is finding itself competing with a world that will always win when it comes to earthly affections.
If broken down to its essence, local churches often compete to keep people and in the end, they really don’t know why. It is a cycle where the church is always competing and never winning, where it becomes more about the chase than actually building the church. The Bankrupt Church is the church that fights the wrong battle for the affections of God’s people.
The Anti-Social Church
I believe this attitude stems from a long line of pastors who have built some pretty large temporary kingdoms on this earth. I am not against the “mega-church,” but I am against any church that does not have strong pockets of biblical community. The local church today is lacking so much in community that people feel more loved while watching Adrian Rogers’ rerun sermons, than by darkening the doors of our church buildings. If they ever do make it to a church service, the most community many will receive is a handshake or a nod during a two-minute visitation or an awkward walk to the car.
Once again, we are aiming at the wrong target when trying to produce biblical community. We try to plan for biblical community or we teach it in a classroom setting. But true biblical community can only be learned by doing; this type of community cannot be fabricated. Biblical community is learned by observing leaders in the church who are willing to open up their heart and their house to live life with their people. It is real affection, real love, and real involvement in someone’s life. Much like Acts 2:44 says, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common.” This real community and love propelled those early believers to sell their possessions and distribute them as a need would arise. One of the greatest longings in all of the world is the desire to belong, and if a local church cannot fulfill that, then something or someone else will. If someone else doesn’t, the end result is a lonely and desperate life.
Another major issue with the “Anti-Social Church” is the great difficulty in bringing the gospel to the nations. If this kind of church struggles to meet the need of belonging that her members possess, how much more will she struggle to reach those of the lost world? The “Anti-Social Church” will never effectively reach the world, because it is too sanitized, too robotic, and no where near what it means to be incarnational.
The Leaderless Church
Another great issue that faces the local church is a lack of leadership. In the pursuit of larger churches and making budgets, many pastors have lost their spine. They make decisions based on pride, fear, or gut reactions. They allow things to go on in the church that should never be allowed. Gossips and those who slander are ignored, racism is overlooked, and many other sins are politely “dealt with” in a way that makes all parties happy or by a slap on the wrist. Church discipline has essentially become ignoring sin until it absolutely cannot go ignored any longer which usually results in people either leaving or doing major damage to the church. True church discipline, however, addresses sin before it goes beyond the point of reconciliation.
People can do without this kind of church, because most people who belong to her live like everyone else in the world (or worse). Why would they submit themselves to the authority of the local church? It just seems extraneous. The Leaderless Church becomes comical to the world and an unholy imitation of a community of believers. The Leaderless Church causes people to say things like, “Why would I go to church when there are so many hypocrites there?” The Leaderless Church is the antithesis of the church that we see in the Scriptures.
Ultimately, Christians must ask questions like these when considering their role in the local church:
-Is God a Holy God and does he require me, as a believer, to be obedient to His Word?
-Since his plan for me includes the local church, can I be obedient to Him and not be a part of the local church?
-What does a Biblical local Church look like?
Christian, the answer to the first two questions are yes and no respectively. A simple answer to the third question is this: a community of Christians who are under the authority of equipped, qualified and confirmed leaders, who meet together regularly, publicly reading Scriptures, singing Psalms and spiritual songs, encouraging one another to do the will of God and administering the ordinances (baptism and communion), who build community by social interaction and missions, and who seek to disciple believers and evangelize the lost. When you find a local church like that, you will begin to understand the value behind the local church and God will use that body to bring you to new heights in your walk with Him.