Saturday, October 24, 2009

Who Cares?

I can't tell you how often I hear students and adults alike use the phrase,"Who Cares?" or "I don't care." There are other, more colorful ways that this is said at times, but this expression is far more revealing than one might understand. The fact is, the church is dying a slow death from misplaced passions about things that don't matter and apathy towards things that do really matter.

Now, it is NOT my intent to suggest that ALL arguments about the style of church music, the manner in which we facilitate communion, pre-mid-post-a, whether one is a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 27 point whatever, etc. are irrelevant. There are issues like this that must be considered and explored biblically. However, I do propose that these vigorous fights, debates, and splits are robbing us from caring about things that really matter. The two primary things that come to mind in this assessment are the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

To be honest, an increasing amount of American Churches (or American Christians for that matter) don't seem to care so much about these two things. Sure, these 'Greats' are in the majority of our mission/vision statements, but how much is this really being lived out? Are we as vigorous about caring about the 'widows and orphans' as we are about making sure that people are using the appropriate translation of the Bible or are refraining from whatever we perceive to be sinful? I wonder what would happen if we were more about the Great Commission of seeing the whole person transformed, and not just managing sin and changing behaviors?

Behaviorism as a measure of success for 'biblical discipleship' shows that the charge of the prophet Isaiah, and also Jesus' charge against the Pharisee's continues to be true today, “And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me...” (Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:8 ESV) This indictment directly confronts the prevalent belief that as long as we look like we are godly and give an appearance of being 'nice and well-behaved' then we are making an impact on culture. While external transformation should truly be a part of sanctification, it is not the end nor should it be our final goal.

If God does not revive the church in our land, it will continue to decline. The apparent attitude today is, "Who cares?" Well, I do and hope that you do too.

More to come on this issue in the weeks and months to come...

1 comment:

James Lane said...

I am not against the church relating to It's congregation through worship or remaining relevant to those who it is trying to reach. Each gift that God has given to us should be used to reach more disciples for Him. When these gifts are used only to entertain ourselves, that is when they are squandered.

That said, I think the complacency in the church comes from a strong desire, on the modern Christian's part, for things that appeal to his flesh. Most churches have taken a cue from this and put the emphasis on the production of the service and nothing more. In fact, it seems that the only things that can be stomached by the modern Christian have to be wrapped in a great deal of what they see in the world around them. The Great Commission and Christ's Great Commandment cannot survive in the shallow waters of these man made pools.

I work in a part of my city from which the modern church has moved away. The only churches that remain in this part of the city host small congregations of a single, ethnic, back ground. The choirs are professional grade and could sing along with any top 40 artist on their next album. The speaker is trained in clever, repetitive, speech. Even his breathing patterns are used to put enfaces on his words. He dresses in the flashiest, finest, clothing. He comes closer to resembling a pimp than he does a pastor. Each Sunday the congregations meet dressed in their finest. They sing along with the great choirs. They applaud and shout as the man in the flashy suit walks back and forth across the stage delivering his message. A little after noon it all comes to an end. The doors are locked and the churches influence in the neighborhood is gone. Mothers return to the hungry children they left at home. The father is still not there, the drugs are still there, their teenage daughters are still pregnant, their teenage sons are still running the streets.

Before we cast condemnation on these churches or pity them, let us consider the state of the modern church. For one, it has moved from these neighborhoods so the churches above should get a point for at least having a dog in the fight. But let's look at how the modern church is doing with those who it is trying to reach. In much the same way they put on a grand production for a largely segregated congregation. The music and the speaker have a different style but they have much the same effect. The service comes to a close and in the end The Power Of God is traded for flash and reflection that fades as soon as the people get beyond eyeshot of the church.

Where is the church? Why has it lost It's influence? I believe the answer is simple. Man has taken the church as far as he can.

Oh, and by the way, I care.:)