The church’s purpose is clear: recognize that Jesus is Lord and thusly, live like He commanded.Unfortunately, I fear that many churches have lost sight of this purpose, and have adopted new purposes that often detract from what Jesus desired for His people.
What are written below are simply thoughts that I’ve developed through conversation and study and are nothing radical. I apologize for that. Also, I was going to write a full post with detailed descriptions for each thought, but it felt cheesy. So I’ve merely listed my thoughts with a brief description. If you need any clarity on any of them, let me know.
So let’s begin.
End nickel and noses ministry – The goal of the church is to get larger. True. However, when we spend a majority of our time counting nickels and noses, obsessing over the drops or gains, we miss the point. If we’re doing the work God desires, He will provide the people and resources necessary without our worrying about it.
Spend less time and energy on maintenance and more on movement – Similar to number 1, we need to focus less on making sure that everybody is satisfied and comfortable and more on living out the purpose to which we are called. I have seen (and been a part of) too many churches who are afraid to move for fear of upsetting the status quo, older members and major donors.
I kind of struggle with this point, because I recognize that the institution of the church is a massive beast that takes time to get moving. It seems unfair and maybe even wrong to demand that people go or get out, particularly when they’ve been a part of the church for longer than I’ve been alive. What is a good balance here?
Recognize that church is boring and that needs to stop – I’m not advocating that church be entertaining with lasers and smoke and dinosaurs. I’m advocating that we stop being boring. Church doesn’t have to be entertaining, but it does need to be relevant and worthwhile.
End our obsession with moral legislation – We need to start living like Jesus ourselves rather than demand that other people do so through legislation.
Recognize that our message is “offensive” so our tactics need not be – Fred Phelps, Ken Silva and others take an offensive (to say the least) stance against those with whom they disagree. Whenever they receive negative feedback, they take that as confirmation of what they’re doing because Jesus promised persecution. I don’t think that this is what Jesus had in mind.
The message that we preach (and hopefully live) is offensive enough. If we truly live and love like Jesus the things and people we value will be so counter to the prevailing culture, that we will be hated. Using hateful speech, stirring up needless conflict and outright condemnation is counter-productive. Yes, Jesus used mean speech. Yes, Jesus condemned. However, I don’t believe that we have been given the same authority, particularly when it comes to condemnation. So stop.
Embrace unity and recognize that unity doesn’t equal uniformity – We have been far too focused on the minor things that divide us. Instrumental music, women’s roles and countless other minor arguments have allowed our movement to become fractured and ineffectual. Churches can and should be united with out being uniform.
So, now it’s your turn. What thoughts do you have?