a few forecasters of the direction of the immediate future of the church
are anticipating its certain and summary death and burial. Others
believe that the church has long since become irrelevant to the majority
of humanity, (and here, I might find closest agreement with the critics
of current ecclesia). Still others see neither the need or the prospect
of any change whatsoever. To these, like the generation Jesus spoke of,
“all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
multitudes are curtailing their association with the institution of
religion, many are content to huddle in their spiritual enclaves with
either a stubborn or a naïve perception that “we’re ok, you’re ok.” So
long as the band plays, as long as the lights shine and the money rolls
in, Heaven is happy and we’re ecstatic, too.
the masses looking for and finding the exit doors of our sanctuaries with
increasing frequency. Never mind the alarming downward spiral of church
attendance and missionary participation and yes, the accompanying plunge
of monetary income lining the pockets of institutional religion.
as well the more than alarming departure of preachers from the pulpit and
the growing prevalence of familial dysfunction within the ranks of the
remaining clergy: Apparently those leaving our organized religious
experience just don’t get it. It’s all about a musical sound that pleases
the ear, preaching (well, perhaps not preaching, we don’t want or need
much of that – perhaps teaching, sharing, conversing fits us better) that
salves the conscience and café espresso instead of commitment and an
expression of Jesus’ life.
increasing numbers of adherents or growing balance sheets or sophisticated
programs and impressive looking architecture the critical signets of
success. Accomplishment, in heaven’s eyes is not achieved through slick
business tactics or by polished talent or human ingenuity. Success, to God
is found in faithfulness: Faithfulness to Him, to His calling, to His
purpose for our lives.
much of life, there is a grain of truth in many of the diverse opinions
and beliefs regarding the church and its successes or failures. One thing
is certain whether it is realized or not: The church of Jesus is embarked
on an undeniable course of change so radical that even the very word
"church" is taking on new meanings and definitions.
In his book The Second Coming of the Church, respected pollster and
author George Barna states "Today's Church is incapable of responding to
the present moral crisis. It must reinvent itself or face virtual
oblivion by mid-21st century. (Italics mine). Dr. Mark Hanby
declares in The House That God Built, "The Christian Church...is
drowning in a flood of human ideas and programs to bring 'God's dreams' to
pass." Mike Regele writes in Death of the Church "The Church has a
choice: to die as a result of its resistance to change or to die in order
to live." Dr. C. Peter Wagner's book Churchquake, a treatise on
radical Church Change has raised the ire of many traditionalists whose
attitude about the Church is encompassed in the current slang expression:
"it's all good."
the church, guides the church and is in the process not only of restoring
the church to a place of spiritual power and significance, but God has
issued the command for a "course-correction" in the direction of the
church so drastic that it is nothing short of a revolution of structure.
The days of
Reformation, so sacrosanct, so revered and so essential to existent and
prevailing church structure, are finished, concluded, over. God is the
Architect and the Engineer of true, spiritual revolution. The New Creation
species – those who have experienced genuine, spiritual rebirth are
engaged in, caught up by a revolution that will result in the
re-establishing of the true, New Testament, New Creation church; the
church Jesus promised He (and no other) would build.
must, by its nature be filled with God, Himself. And being filled with and
by the God of creation, it also will be a church filled with power and
significance and efficacy; the embodiment of the true glory of God
Himself. This may sound, to the religiously-contended ear like a
reckless-sounding statement. Yet I assure the reader it is a proper,
measured and fully-considered assertion.
Virtually every study that has examined the growth/decline patterns of
traditional, Christian churches in America and in Europe corroborate the
veracity of my brash-sounding appraisal. Yet I don’t need to appeal to the
data-gatherers: The reader knows it by experience or by simple
modern-traditional-church-system has strayed severely from the course
Jesus set for His followers.
"going" we have gathered in our comfort zones of doctrinal, ethnic and
social sameness. Instead of distributing we have hoarded. Instead of
"whosoever will," the church has become possessively "our church;" "our
program;" "our doctrine;" "our faith" to the exclusion of outsiders,
anyone but “us.”
first decade of the 21st Century, Western Christianity has
degenerated into a culture of "give me" and "feed me" and "entertain me"
and "serve me" since we believe, “it’s all about me,” instead of advancing
a culture of "reach them" and "feed them" and "serve them."
We "rate" the worship experience, the sermon, the teaching, the prophecy,
the coffee, the children's program, the architectural structure, the
carpet and the paint and the restroom decor. We choose our places of
worship based on carnal, earthly criteria and so we miss heavenly
atmospheres and divine architecture.
We chase success and disregard crushed and wounded souls. We use the
gospel for self-improvement for our families, self-attainment for our
businesses, and selfish growth of our financial portfolios instead of
letting the gospel use us to demonstrate good news to dying men.
We applaud and deify charismatic leaders when their slick theatrics wow us
and we stone them when God's truth through them wounds us.
Much of the contemporary church of the West is a sick Body. Like Samson,
shorn of his power, blinded to the light, bound by his own, foolish
cuteness and trickery, the church stumbles before a world that accurately
recognizes her ineptness, her weakness and her ineffectiveness.
multitudes cry for authenticity. Hearts yearn for what they have not seen,
have not heard, have not known while all the while seeing, hearing and
knowing something more is out there, awaiting discovery, beckoning the
seeker to seek.