Monday, May 02, 2005

A Failure To Communicate

As a pastor, I am regularly amazed by what people expect of the local church. One analyst estimates that, until you have at least 200 members, it is just about impossible to be a "full-service church." That is, to be a church that is meeting at least most of the perceived needs of the people who attend on a regular basis. Moreover, although we hear a lot about "mega-churches" with thousands of members and dozens of pastors, the average church in the US is under 75 members, so most churches find themselves constantly worrying about trying to do more to drum up attendance.

Unfortunately, this usually results in the message of the gospel getting utterly lost as we try to become more "user-friendly" by adopting the philosophy that "anything and everything goes, as long as your fanny is in the pew on Sunday." I have been preaching from 1 John, and I think it is instructive that he says, in Chapter 2, verses 3 & 4, "hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, 'I know Him,' and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in Him" (emphasis supplied). The Bible clearly commands us to make disciples, not simply converts, and to teach them to follow the commandments of Christ (Matthew 28:20), and yet we pretend that superficial attendance and nominal giving are equal to true discipleship. Something is obviously wrong here, and if we don't fix it, all of this flashy church growth we're seeing in many areas is going to be dust in the wind in a few years.

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