Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What's Going On?

Over the past year I have not been a good "blogger." Candidly, I have been wondering lately about this "blogging stuff." My desire is to be a positive influence in this world for good and God and its seems (at least to me) that blogging has almost developed into a "bandwagon" or a "platform" for complaint. Yesterday I received, via email, a blog which was denigrating a church body (and really "any" church body) for attempting 2 worship services and 2 worship styles. The writer was extremely articulate, the words were cleverly drafted, but honestly the theme was all too familiar and for me, disappointing.

The 21st century in the United States is a complicated and perplexing time. This country, which history confirms, was founded on the principles and precepts of the Bible, has taken a decided departure from her roots. While, from a historical basis, this type of departure is not totally new or even unexpected, this generation has taken the departure to a new level. Now, we have "historians" and "legal experts" who are willing to rewrite history and change the intent of our constitution to suite our present wants and desires. The result is a culture of chaos or as the Bible teaches, "everyone doing what is right in their own eyes."

Within the "organized" church, this cultural shift has created a great deal of confusion and frustration. Depending on who you read, between 50% - 90% of evangelical churches are plateaued and/or declining. Additionally, for those church listed as growing churches, there is even a cause for concern. Because according to experts like Barna, Rainer, and others, a significant percentage of growing churches are not making an impact into the lives of people who are "far from God" but rather, are picking up sheep from someone else's church.

So Pastors, Staffs, and Concerned believers, are seeking the best way to fulfill the spirit of the Great Commission by finding ways to get the gospel into the lives of unbelievers. The Bible teaches us that the "word of God will not return void" so if we are faithful in giving the gospel, the Holy Spirit will be faithful in bringing people into the kingdom.

Yet, while this effort is being made, there are those within the church who criticize. Their argument goes something like this; "going to 2 services, creates 2 churches", "we are compromising our faith by using contemporary music", "let's get back to having 'real church' where we use hymnals and just the piano and organ", or the classic "I don't get to see everybody or know everybody."

Words on a page seem cold and hard. As I write this post, I wish there was a way for you to hear my vocal inflexion so you would know that I am more saddened than angered by our state of affairs. My deep desire is not to attack anyone but rather, bring light to Biblical truth. When I hear believers use these lines and phrases, the first question I always ask is this, "how long has it been since you shared your faith with someone who is outside of Christ?" or "if having a second service with or without contemporary music brings only one person in the building, is it worth it?" or even "do these issues have true Biblical basis?"

Christ died for us when we were unlovable, unworthy, and undeserving. He didn't make us clean up and then come to Him. Rather, He came to us, brought us to Him, and then began (and continues to do) the cleaning process. It's difficult to understand how a redeemed people can thwart honest efforts to bring people under the hearing of the gospel. It's difficult to believe that a redeemed people have come to the place where we care more about our preferences, convenience, and desires, than we are concerned about those who are "yet to know." From the reading of scripture, we know there was a group of people in Jesus' days who were also like this. And it was those people who arranged for the mob which had Jesus crucified.

When Paul wrote the carnal Corinthian church he laid down his personal philosophy of ministry in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. His conclusion was simply, "I'll become all things to all people that by ALL MEANS I might save some." This is our mission and mandate. Yet somehow, we don't seem to "get it." This is amazing to me.

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