Have you ever been in a situation in which you are church hunting? I have, and to be honest, it’s kind of fun, especially if you are doing it with a group of friends. It’s kind of like dating, a bunch of different girls, a few thrills on the side, but sooner or later it’s time to narrow the selection down, and commit. How do we do that? For most people, we pick a church the same way we pick a mate, who can offer me the most with the least amount of commitment on my part. I mean, we would never say that, but c’mon, our lives are busy, and we need a place that can give me my spiritual fix for the week, my star on the chart, so I can go my way and do what I do best, spend time on myself.
The truth is that most Christians pick a church based off of the latest greatest programs, the praise and worship team that can put on the best show, where I get the most goose bumps, the speaker who can pump me to live my best life now, and a place that won’t require much out of us—the great exchange—I pay my tithe, I help with the building fund, attend two services a week, and if I’m really serious, take my turn as a greeter, and for that, the church better be able to train my children, make me feel spiritual, and teach me how to have a better life. Here is the crazy part of all that, it’s understandable. It’s our default mode isn’t it—watch out for number one—me. Out-source the spiritual development of our kids, teens, and house. My problem isn’t so much that the population is a consumer society on a whole, but that the leaders of today’s modern church continue to feed the beast weekly.
It seems that a lot of today’s churches are led by CEO’s, Managers, and salesmen, whose focus is to keep you coming backing, selling you whatever you want so they can be successful. The truth is, this is a dangerous cycle, that many of us get caught up in, and end up living a spiritual comatose life and end up being just as lost as the people outside our doors that scare us. Though not very spiritual, the movie Fight Club does a great depiction of what the consumer mindset does to a society.
This is not the picture of someone who is living life with Christ. This is not a missional person, A truly missional person is not actively seeking how to become a better richer them, but they are actively seeking to be equipped, trained, and taught as a missionary trough accountability, transparent relationships, sound bibilical teaching, and permission to articulate and actualize the gospel in the lives of their friends who do not know Christ.
In seeking this, and when you find a church that actually focuses on this, that isn’t to say that you won’t find a church with all the bells and whistles, you may, you may not, the point is, are you seeking to be trained to be God’s missionary to where you live, work, and play? This is what the leadership of the church should be supplying. However to do this, it means we must check our ego at the doors, we must learn submission, we must desire an affective life over an affluent life, again, I am not saying you won’t have both, but what is the desire that motivates us – to be more like Jesus or to be a god unto ourselves.
I long for the day when we begin to see a real Ephesians 4 church, verses a church ran like a modern American business selling goods to customers in hopes that they come back to keep us in business and popular.
Ephesians 4:11-16 – …he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
The truth is, one could turn these 5 verses into about a ten week series, that would, if anything not guarantee church growth, but it would guarantee church depth. In most of our western minded Christians, Jesus is seen as a whore! I know that isn’t very pc, and there isn’t a church that would say that, but if Jesus is the whore I sleep with to get my greatest desires fulfilled – prosperity, health, healing, the perfect mate, the American dream, etc – then pastors are no more than pimps selling Jesus to bring in the crowd so they can make more money. After all Jesus shouldn’t be that hard to sell, who doesn’t want the perfect one-night stand? On more mild terms, Jesus seems to be the road map to desire, rather than being the actual desire, the actual fullness of all truth and of everything good.
The truth is, if Christ is truly our motivation and not self, then we should gather to be equipped and trained and edified and rebuked, and then to be sent out to be ‘fishers-of-men.’
The goal is not to be wealthy, though there is nothing wrong with wealth. The goal is not to be healthy, though we need to be. The goal is not to be successful, though there is nothing wrong with that. The goal, is to be more like Jesus every day—period—everything else is secondary. If this is really our goal, then when we are seeking a church or spiritual leadership, we will seek leadership that teaches us to be more like Jesus, love like Jesus, live like Jesus, care like Jesus, and completely and utterly worship Jesus, the God-man who was punished mercilessly so that you and I may be given relentless mercy and be justified before the sight of God the Father…this needs to be our desire, so may our motivation not be self-indulgence, but may we actively seek to be equipped, trained, and taught as a missionary trough accountability, transparent relationships, sound Biblical teaching, and permission to articulate and actualize the gospel in the lives of our friends who do not know Christ…until next month…I love you!