The Churches problem is not in its pursuit, but in its loss of its original vision, particularly churches associated with the evangelical/holiness movement. We have come to an era I like to call the post-holiness era. We have pursued holiness through our forefathers, but we have forgotten that pursuit within ourselves. I have seen too many times the effort of churches toward respectability and no conflict. From this we have a fairly liberal interpretation of what the church should be doing. The difficulty in this is that most define the conservative church as recluse in its theology and ministry. This causes most to see churches as unloving throughout history. The movement we look for in this situation is the renewal of a past. It is completely appropriate for this day and age because many are looking for something to follow.
The church has a few specific faults within this problem: the misconception of a country club, the misconception of a secret society, and the misconception of blood family (allow me to explain this one before any assumptions arise). The Churches first mistake was coming to a country club to waste their time. The mistake seems to be that we want to come, sit, sing, listen, bow our heads, and leave. The horror this creates is apathy toward the worship itself. It is good that the people come, sit and listen. These three factors are a great start, but the final things are what disturb me most. The come and merely bow their heads. They do not have a focus on anything but the floor. Now, this is just an illustration of something bigger. The worship service is just a service for them to attend and not necessarily to participate in the service for Christ. The second action is just listening. This is excluding our acting. This is condemnable by reason itself. If you hear something that could save you but do not act on it, or better yet experience the grace the raises you from death, but do not act as living, can you really say that you are alive or even have understood what was spoken.
The second fault is the misconception of being a secret society. This fault is experienced when we deny the Gospel to anyone. We forget our past and build confidence in our own selves. We begin displaying hostility towards the outsiders and take our guns of criticism off of safety. This is probably the most childish of all the faults. Everyone remembers the old days of the Little Rascals. Spanky and Alfalfa were key members of the He-man Woman Haters Club. Alfalfa however was always sidetrack by the local beauties. Many guys can relate to this. Women have that strange effect of making men stare and drool while saying super intelligent phrases like “Ungh” or “She’s Hot”. But in this show, Spanky always seemed to bring things back to order by splitting Alfalfa from the women. This humor gives me several good chuckles as I watch that show, but when I start to think, I become saddened by the first parallel that comes to my mind. The church plays this game by excluding the world. When someone goes off on an evangelistic agenda, we start to aim our criticisms at him and the new attendees. This cannot stand any longer. In Matthew 28, there is a command to minister to the world. We must be careful not to rebel against the commands of our Lord, considering this is who we worship in the church and serve in our communities.
The last fault requires some explanation. When I say blood family, I mean the unalterable state of the family. This is the state in which no one is allowed into the family. Now, no believer is gone to outright state this, for they know in their minds that this is not of God. The problem is found in their hearts, or better said, their vision and mission. Our desire is inward, which is quite natural, but should we not be acting out the change within. After all, natural occurrences show that most things that are affected within are changed on the outside. To be completely natural would be allowing the grace of God to change our outlook. Considering this fact, it becomes obvious that we were not part of His family when we started, but have now been accepted. This paints the picture of the church as the means of adoption. We are part of an adopted family. Here there is obligation to shelter the helpless. Here we are accepted. We should reflect this in the way we treat others.
One thing that could be killing some churches is the low level of catechism in the church membership classes. Not that you should teach them details of theology, but should know what they are getting themselves into. This is the core problem to the other problems.
There are ways to prevent these misconceptions. One is to learn from the Bible what the Church is. Reading the letters of Paul and Acts can clarify these things. Another way is to learn from a pastor how the church functions and the idea of the church. There are things a pastor can teach using the history of the church and also could reasonably explain by using Scripture and tradition as a basis. If these could be a prerequisite, then the experience of a church which encourages these things would be optimal.
One proposition could be to push past the post holiness movement. This movement has maimed the holiness movement of the past. With this in mind, we should push for the Renewal Movement, a return to holiness and evangelism. This could be the revival of the church. If there are just a few pastors to tap into this spring, we could see the next great Wesley or Asbury. We need someone who will be honest and open, yet kind and compassionate. The mission of our body should be not to create death but to actually live as we have been given life. It may be difficult to climb the cliff we have fallen down, but it has to be done, however long it takes. We should be imploring our sheep to take on this mind, the mind of Christ. It is only logical, considering the nature of grace, that we do it naturally and not rebel.
I could give many examples on these issues and more issues of the church, but that would take at least twenty pages.