This is my fourth time to write about how to kill a church, and I think this is enough; I don’t want to get morbid. But it is simply true that success or failure depends on us.
God hasn’t moved, and “Trust and obey” is still the route to great things. The world around us will never hold us back.
I once heard about a new church in my city that met in a rented building downtown. Successful churches are usually in the suburbs, with Christian families and free parking, so I had to check this place out.
I am still surprised; on a Sunday morning I walked into a huge auditorium filled with young adults, and they were all talking at once. Loud and lively conversations were everywhere. I didn’t have any young friends to chat with, so I sat down and waited for the service to start.
As I waited, a young woman came and sat beside me, with her head turned to a conversation. I knew what was coming and I waited until she turned her head and saw me, a man the age of her father, right beside her.
She almost screamed and jumped up and ran to some friends a few rows over, and joined their conversation. So maturity was not a big thing there.
When the service started, the talk was all trendy and informal, and Christian hipster; if that means anything to you. The speaker wore skinny jeans and called us “church.” When he spoke I had the general impression that we were supposed to be positive about something, and that message was delivered with energy.
I didn’t know what to think, so later I asked my my son for his interpretation and he said, “That preacher was a surfer dude.” It’s easy to laugh and criticize that group as Barbies’ First Church, with Reverend Surfer Dude, but style was not the issue. They had a sense of style, and I don’t, so the criticism could come my way.
There was one big problem; they didn’t seem to believe anything. The place was all style with no content. They seemed happy to just sip their mochas and socialize, and be trendy. I didn’t want to criticize my fellow Christians, so I went back to my church and left them alone.
A few weeks later I checked to see how they were doing, and the place was gone. A large Christian church came and then vanished, and no one seemed to notice, or care. Their building was rented, so closing the shop was probably easy.
This is my conclusion; we have to believe in the truth that sets us free. If we don’t, we might kill our churches. Every generation has trends and styles, but Jesus is the enduring liberator.
Trendy movements are like loose sand; they come and go with the wind. In history, Christians are the best at building groups of converts, and enduring for generations. No one else can do that; most religions endure when the next generation is indoctrinated in the culture.
Christians are told “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) We are directed away from failure, to success.
The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed and to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who grieve in Zion to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a mantle of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” “Then people will call them “Oaks of Righteousness”, “The Planting of the LORD”, in order to display his splendor. (Isaiah 61: 1,2,3)
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