The Almost Church

Church

 

The “Almost Church” – Almost loves the gospel.  The “Almost Church” sings songs about the gospel, reads the Bible, loves Jesus, and genuinely desires to see the gospel advance.  But, at the “Almost Church”, the gospel becomes a “help” to the “Almost Christians” who are seeking to build the church. Friends, the gospel is not an additional “help” to building the church, it is the ONLY “hope” of building the church.

Continue reading The Almost Church

The Consumer Driven Church

NYC

How about this for the next book title on church?

The Consumer Driven Church.

At the consumer driven church you “do” church the same way in which you “do” your grocery shopping.  In the small town I live (Titusville, Fl). You can drive to Aldi’s because they have great prices, but they don’t always have the vegetables you need.

NO Problem – you can drive to Publix which is only 5 minutes from Aldi’s and grab your veggies.

But what about the movie rental?

Again, not a problem! Wal-mart is on the way home and they have not 1 but 2 Redbox machines!

Consumerism…. You gotta love it!

My family regularly utilizes all 3!  (Not to mention the often sought after cup of coffee at Starbucks which is located in the Target! – Located across the street from the Wal-Mart!!)

As for me and my house….. we will shop around.

Have you noticed?

Have you noticed our Americanized consumerism has seeped, more like flooded, into the local church?  Today, pastors are tempted to think that they need to cater to this mentality in order to build a church! The result is sometimes funny and sometimes sad.

Sometimes funny:

I like Aldi’s!  Mostly because they are NOT Wal-Mart!  They know who they are. Small grocery chain, with limited space, and thus limited product.  That’s Aldi’s and that is why I like them!

How silly would it be for Aldis to TRY to be a Wal-Mart.  The joy of the Aldis experience is: I don’t have to engage with ALL THAT STUFF.  Aldis is…. simple.  I like simple!  The point is – Aldis knows who they are.  Aldi’s is not trying to be someone they are not.

Knowing who you are is helpful in that it helps you know who you are NOT!

Crazy, isn’t it,  when the little local church tries to be the Wal-mart – super center church.  I have fallen victim to this, at times, over the years and I shake my head. How silly, even funny (yes, I am laughing) when we don’t know who we are and we try to be something else. It is a dumb way to try to build a local church.

In the consumer driven church we run to the Aldis church for relationships, the Wal Mart church for youth programs, and the Publix church for quality worship music.

I don’t think we are aware how much consumerism has affected the psyche of the average American church goer.

Aldis is comfortable in their own skin.  As a church member in your local church….. are you?

Sometimes sad:

It is sad when a church – that is an Aldis –  is lustfully trying to be the Wal-mart.  It is sad because we are not accepting who God has called us to be or who we are in Christ.  AND, this is the saddest part…..  often this church will do whatever is necessary to please the consumer.  This is not only sad, it is dangerous! Sad and dangerous because the church regularly translates into church consumerism. Which regularly translates into “watering down” God’s Word to make it acceptable and palatable to as many people as possible.

I Timothy 3-4

Paul, having instructed Timothy that Gods Word is God breathed and all the implications of that truth, then charges Timothy to “Preach The Word….”. As a part of that charge, Paul goes on to say:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

(2 Timothy 4:3-5 ESV)

You see, what you see in churches today who have bailed on God’s Word regarding: sexual purity, marriage, family, parenting, and on and on….  is not so much about those issues. Drill down deeper than the surface issues and you will find a church or individual members and or pastors who no longer believe God’s Word is the Authority.

When God’s Word is no longer the Authority – the pastors and churches will cave to the pressures of people, fear of man, and consumerism.

You do not want consumerism to drive your church! 

A Long Way Around The Block:

Sorry, I took you a long way around the block to “get the mail”. But, here is my main point. What is your conviction about YOUR local church and about God’s Word in that local church? Is there ANYTHING more needed in the consumer driven culture that we live in than the Word of God?!? ANYTHING?

Actually, my friend, I do believe we are in the consumer driven church mess that we are in BECAUSE we have pushed God’s Word to the perimeter of church life.  No, I am not saying the Word is not read! OR that the word is not preached. I am saying in the consumer driven church the Word is used to “prop” up a sermon rather than “drive” the sermon. The Word becomes secondary rather than primary. Perimeter rather than at the Core.

3 things to consider:

1.)  Is the Word of God the priority in your church?  (This does not mean that the Word is read or even preached.  It, means…is the conviction that Gods Word is GODS Word permeating into the life of the church?)

2.)  Is the Word of God the authority in your church?  (All of us have an authority! Opinions or what you picked up from the professor in college or…….?)  If the Word is not your authority, what is?

3.)  Is the Word of God enough in your church?  (I am not saying other things (i.e.programs and ministries) are not important, but even other things must be built on the Word of God itself.)

 

 

Looking for a church? 4 simple things to consider….

typewriter

The grass withers,

The flower fades,

But the Word of the Lord remains forever

Isaiah 40:8

I have a friend that likes to ask people who visit the church I belong to (Trinity CC): What are you looking for in a church? Whether we realize it or not we all have an answer to that question. We might not even be looking for a church, and yet, we still have an answer to that question.

Maybe it’s:

  • trendy music
  • a cool worship leader with a “tight” band
  • high octane youth group
  • a children’s program that competes with Nickelodeon
  • the look of the building
  • convenient parking
  • a relevant pastor
  • Small – home groups
  • programs
  • vision
  • charismatic
  • non charismatic
  • dynamic preaching
  • creativity
  • missional
  • and on and on and on it goes.

Jonathan Leeman, in his outstanding book Reverberation says: “Are any of these things bad? Not at all. Most are fine or even good. The question is, Where are we placing our confidence?”

I want to re-iterate what J. Leeman said – these are not bad things!  Who doesn’t want relevant sermons, or a good band?!? BUT…..Where are we placing our confidence?

It seems to me that the church today is placing less and less of its confidence where we ought……in the Word of God. The result of a misplaced confidence is concerning.

 4 things to look for in a church:

1.) Does the Word of God drive the church in all of its ministries?

The Word of God must be central to all the church does.  The Word must drive.  This is much more than just reading scripture or preaching from a passage of the Bible.  It is the DNA of the church that hungers for the Word and gladly submits to God’s Word.  So, what is driving the church? What or who is in the drivers seat?

2.)  Due to the above, does the church have a conviction about preaching God’s Word?

We are in and seem to be headed for difficult days!  Does your church preach God’s Word, without apology, and with conviction? If God’s Word is our confidence, then we should not be shy in our preaching and proclamation of it! The goal is not to be politically correct, the goal is to be biblically correct.

Pastors, the most loving thing you can do for your congregation is to preach the Word.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

(2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV)

 3.) Is the church God centered or man centered?

Who is at the center?  You?  Me? A pastor? Dynamic youth leader? a hard working deacon? or a long term member? When we make the church to be primarily about man, we miss out on the very reason we exist as a church.  Why does the church exist? We exist, first and foremost, for the worship of God!  ALL else falls into place UNDER this ultimate and primary purpose.

Have you noticed the Word of God is…..  a God centered book?

4.)  Does the church have a gospel culture?

What is a “gospel culture”?

It is one thing to “know” about the gospel.  Anyone can know the gospel factually. One can even share the gospel with others.  BUT, is the gospel functioning in the life of the church? Does the gospel permeate down into all the ministries of the church? The gospel is the focal point of the Word of God, oh that it would be the focal point of the church!

To read further about what the gospel is click here.

I hope you have found a good church where you love to worship God! There is no perfect church! The church I have the privilege of pastoring is always seeking to grow and is always needing to grow in the above!  We have NOT arrived, no church has!

If you are lacking in conviction about these 4 questions above, pray, and ask God to help you to grow.

Or, if you do have a conviction, and you see ways in which your church is lacking in the above….. Get involved! God has given you a passion for the above for a reason. Get involved and help your church to grow in the 4 areas listed above.

 

Is there more than these 4 things to look for in a church? Sure. But, I hope these are at the core of your heart if you are currently looking for a church to call home.