Tuesday, May 21, 2013

When Does A Church Stop Being A Church?

I can draw this out or I can make it short and sweet.

The short answer is, "When the importance of program replaces the importance of people."

But I never do anything short and sweet, so I'll expand and expound a bit. lol!

I've been on both sides of this over my years pastoring. I've only been the senior pastor of one church in my whole life, but I've been here for eighteen years. I really do believe in growing where planted if possible.

Believe me, when I was new at this I tried every scheme that came down the pipe that the church growth gurus were selling. Books, tapes, video series, events, speakers, methods, etc.  Basically they all achieved one common end: they failed in the long run.

I got wise pretty quick and decided to just have church. If the people didn't support a program, then we did away with the program. One thing that is constant and we can't do away with is people. Another is Jesus and His Word.

Jesus, the Word, and people. How very New Testament.

Today if you ask someone what makes a church they will more than likely tell you "a great children's program". Or a "nursery for the little ones". Or, a "slammin' teen group". Some will prefer a senior adult ministry of some sort, or perhaps a program to feed and clothe the poor. Others would never put up with anything but the best music program with the largest choir.

Don't get me wrong, none of those things are bad, in fact they can be rather helpful.

They just don't adequately define what "Church" is. 

I feel sorry because often many churches who boast of these programs are allowing hundreds of people to come and go each week without ever giving them the opportunity to respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Program has replaced the gospel. Who's Church is it anyway? And Who is building it?

Matthew 16:18 (AMP) - "...I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (the powers of the infernal region) shall not overpower it [or be strong to its detriment or hold out against it].

Church, in the true sense of the word (ekklesia), is a ministry to the soul and spirit of man. Physical comforts and freedom from minor annoyances are not the top priority. The condition of man's body, soul and spirit are.

Yet, people will opt for not having to sit next to their own children in church over being a part of a gospel experience of seeing souls saved, healed, and delivered. Oh yes, indeed they will. 

They will be convinced that after years and years of attending a church that catered to every physical whim they had, from fresh coffee before service, to plenty of handicap spots in the parking lot, to never having to lay eyes on their kids during service, that their "Church" experience was a real blessing. 

Yet...they never laid hands on a sick person to be healed. They've NEVER BEEN TAUGHT! In fact they may never have SEEN a sick person healed. They have never SEEN a miracle unfold in the midst of a church service simply because God decided to move upon them. They never LED a person to Christ because they never HEARD it preached or SEEN a person saved in church.  They have never SEEN a person delivered from drugs or alcohol right before their eyes. They will tell you, "I presume the pastor takes care of those things."

How sad is it when those of the comfort oriented churches take a Sunday off to "slum" over to my church to get their healing? Or ask others to "have your pastor pray for me". Their pastor "doesn't do that sort of thing." 

That church stopped being a church the minute they decided to stop taking the focus off the unsaved, sick, and infirm, and placed it on the external comforts.

A church stops being a church when the pastor and people literally cannot remember the last time a person was gloriously saved, sanctified, healed, and delivered, but they can tell you how many came to the potluck and what was served. They can't tell you what the pastor preached, but they remember if the coffee was weak.

All the time heaven surrounds us with great expectation of somehow and someday allowing God and His angels access to what we call "church" and relinquishing control to the revival Spirit that is at the very threshhold. "On earth as it is in heaven?" Not likely in far too many places

Oh, that we would just get out of our own way. Wouldn't it be great to just "have church"? I will tell you, yes...indeed it is!

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><


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