Saturday, June 29, 2013

Eight Observations

There are eight foundational observations that reflect where the traditional denominational church is; and they form the basis for developing an effective strategy for transforming the church toward full gospel engagement.  (Remember, by “church” I am referring to the “traditional, denominational, local church in America.”)

(1)   The “Church in America” has become the “Americanized Church” putting individual prosperity, “me first” lifestyle, and “you’re on your own” morality ahead of serving others.

(2)   Members are encouraged to “come to the church” to experience Christianity and give their money instead of “going through the church” to serve the world.

(3)   The church’s primary focus is inward – on buildings, staff, raising money, and providing entertainment – leaving very little energy and interest in serving others outside the church.

(4)   Most churches only measure membership and money, not serving others.

(5)   The vast majority of church members are not actively and regularly engaged in the life of the church.

(6)   Most pastor leaders feel they can’t, or shouldn’t, change the “salvation only” emphasis within their congregation.

(7)   Too many members believe that serving others is someone else’s responsibility, and for those that aren’t served, it’s their own fault or God has chosen to ignore their plight.

(8)   Non-denominational churches are growing rapidly in number of churches and actively engaged participants, because their core beliefs include serving others.

We Are Sorry, Lord

As church leaders embark on the path of full gospel engagement it is important that they lead the congregation through appropriate repentance for the roles individuals, staff and congregants have played in ignoring God’s commands to care for the poor, oppressed and brokenhearted. 

This is not an easy thing to do, saying “I’m sorry,” especially if there is no perception of wrongdoing. But if we believe the Bible has always said, “Serve others,” and we have not matched our actions to God’s command, then we have sinned against Him, haven't we? 

Κύριε ελέησον (Kyrie eleison: Lord have mercy) should be our cry – for our disobedience, for painting with our lives a picture of Christ that is not true, for the thousands who have suffered in life while we ignored them, for the souls that have rejected Christ because of how we made Him look, for the prayers and worship that have fallen short of God’s ears because of the barrier of our sin, for believing that God does not care about those in need, and for raising generation after generation in “our image” and not in God’s.

Until we acknowledge our sin in this area, and apologize to God and those we have harmed by our sin, the movement toward full gospel engagement will be missing the fullness of God’s power in our lives.

And once we’ve acknowledged our sin and repented of it – then we should think no more of it.  We are forgiven and that sin, in the past, is now forever forgotten by God and so it should be by us.