Our Concept of Church…

I was listening to a message of a well-known pastor and he said something very thought-provoking. He said it takes wisdom to forgo all that you know and have learned from modern churches about how church and Christianity is supposed to look and really sit down with an open Bible, seeking to conform only to the Bible and not to fads and attractions that we see today. My initial reaction was: this is interesting and different. So this is the question: (if possible) without any preconceived notions, if you were to be a part of or start a church, only using what you knew from the Bible, what would it look like? Would there be Sunday school or an elaborate lighting system? Would there be an altar call or church bulletins?

Now, I do want to say that I do not think those things are particularly bad. I also want to start off and say that however churches decide to organize their ministries and services are up to the leadership. My hope is that the leadership seeks to conform the church’s style to Scripture. This man’s example was that many people desire to take aspects of a megachurch pastor’s church (church A), another megachurch pastor’s church (church B) and a third megachurch pastor’s church (church C) and pull all of those things together to design his church as if it would make it THE ultimate church. The problem is that you can easily lose sight of what the Bible has to say about the church, and instead, use the fads and trends of contemporary church (or even traditionalist church fads). Churchgoers then are attracted to an awe-inspiring light show, a loud praise band, and an eloquent communicator (nothing wrong with being a good communicator; the problem is what some are communicating; listen for gospel-less, subtle narcissism, fluff and no substance). At a conference I was at, Kyle Idleman said something sad but true: “what you win them with is what you win them too.” THAT is true. If you win someone over with the gospel and gospel-centered ministries then that is their focus; they would look for that in searching for a church, despite how “bad” the worship music may be (in your opinion) because their focus is on God and not the lights and loud music. Inversely, if you win someone over with bright lights, palatable songs (that are secular but you’ve made them spiritual like.. AC/DC’s Highway to Hell, as one megachurch pastor has done…), and a palatable gospel (watered-down, maybe judgement-less, self-centered/narcissistic), then that is what they will know and then when they hear the gospel, the real gospel that includes all people being sinners, Christ’s death as atonement for sinners, heaven, hell, judgment, and the necessity for placing believing faith in Christ, they will find that new, themselves confused, and probably offended. Western Christianity has designed and built church according to the trends and fads of the day. Sure, great worship music is always a plus, but as long as it is Christ-centered, who cares if it isn’t always on key or if the music is professional grade. I didn’t come to church to be entertained, I came to worship and exalt Jesus, whether the music is the quality that I like or not. Sure, the pastor may not have the funniest or best stories, but he is a man who loves Christ, lives his life in accordance to the message he preaches that is rooted deeply in Scripture, and is faithful in edifying and equipping the saints and reaching the lost with the gospel. Sure, the church building may be old and the sanctuary out of date, but the people who come love, worship, and serve Christ as a family. It accommodates our services as we require it to. American Christianity places so much of an emphasis on what is attractive as it relates to modern culture. American Christians have a consumer mentality when it comes to church and that is sinful. Church should not be consumer-driven. We should hope to avoid that very thing and focus on Christ and the models of the church found in Scripture. So, who cares about having all of the things that we are told we need to have in order to be a “success,” we have Christ and no matter how our services look, attractive to some or unattractive to some, He is our focus. Let us not get wrapped up in how our churches look and how “cool” our services are but be wrapped in how great the gospel of Christ is and how He is the focal point of our services. His Word is sufficient. Jesus and Jesus alone is sufficient for all things, and that most definitely includes our churches, ministries and our worship services. Our focus is to be on Jesus. If Jesus doesn’t cause you to worship and devote yourself to Him then there is nothing that can, no matter how bright the lights and big the sanctuary; outside of Jesus, the methods of “how to do church” do not matter, as long as they follow Scripture. Whether you pass the offering plate or have boxes in the back of the sanctuary, whether you have a piano or a band, whether you have theater seats or pews, whether you have a pastor who wears a suit and tie or dress casual (modesty implied), whether you have KJV pew Bibles or a more modern translation, whether you have a big new sanctuary to worship in or a small older one, whether you have a choir or don’t have a choir, whether the youth minister (if applicable) is young or older, whether the floor is carpet or hardwood, whether for an underground church, a house church, a country church, an urban church, a traditional church, a contemporary church, a small church, or a megachurch: JESUS, alone, IS ENOUGH.

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