We began to wonder whether our definition of a church actually fit God’s definition.
One of the main things that we questioned was the level of love we had for one another. Cornerstone was by most standards a pretty loving church. But next to the example of the early church in the New Testament, it just fell flat. Jesus said the world should know us by our love (John 13:35). As elders, we came to the painful conclusion that when unbelievers came to our services, they weren’t observing anything supernatural about the way we loved one another.
The Church has real issues, but Jesus still refers to the Church as His body, His Bride! We must love His Bride, not gripe about her or leave her.
They love Jesus but have a hard time finding the connection between what they read in Scripture and what they experience in the Church.
The Scriptures tell me you are indispensable and the body cannot function perfectly without you.
Many want to change the Church, but it is often motivated by personal preference rather than biblical conviction.
There are times when God hates our worship. There are churches He wants shut down. So often we assume that as long as we show up to worship, God is pleased. The Bible tells a different story (Amos 5:21–24; Isa. 58:1–5; Mal. 1:6–14; 1 Cor. 11:17–30; Rev. 2:5; 3:15–16).
God designed the Church to be much more than what the majority of us experience
There is no greater honor on earth than to be part of God’s Church. When was the last time you were awestruck by the fact that you are part of Christ’s body? Have you ever marveled at this privilege? “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.” Ephesians 5:29–30
You are a stone in the same structure in which the apostles and prophets are the foundation and Jesus Himself is the cornerstone (Eph. 2:20)!
Herein lies the danger of clamoring for attention: we don’t realize that true joy comes from the opposite. Joy comes as we stand among those Jesus has redeemed and get lost in a sea of worship, becoming fully a part of something sacred.
God wanted to show the heavenly beings His incomparable wisdom … so He created the Church!
we bring an offering we think He should accept rather than what He actually asked for.
is it that gets people in your church stirred up for change? Is it disobedience toward commands from God? Or is it falling short of expectations that we have made up? The answer to these questions might just show us whether our church exists to please God or please people—whether God is leading our church or we are.
Too often we have given people what they ask for rather than what they need. There are times when the most loving thing we can do is teach people that joy will come only when they stop screaming for attention and save their voices for the throne.
We’re not doing people any favors by pretending they are the center of the universe. Either people will be awed by the sacred or they will not. If the sacred is not enough, then it is clear that the Spirit has not done a work in their lives. If the sheep don’t hear His voice, let them walk away. Don’t call out with your own voice.
By catering our worship to the worshippers and not to the Object of our worship, I fear we have created human-centered churches.
Many of us make decisions based on what brings us the most pleasure. This is how we choose our homes, jobs, cars, clothes, food, and churches. We pursue what we want; then we make sure there are no biblical commands we are violating. In essence, we want to know what God will tolerate rather than what He desires. Maybe we are afraid to ask what will bring Him the most pleasure. Ignorance feels better than disobedience.
Scripture is our starting point, not desire or tradition.
The first church was built on the things that pleased God most. It was their focus on the right things that actually made them attractive.
In our impatient culture, we want to experience biblical awe without biblical devotion.
We should be asking why Christians are willing to give only ninety minutes a week (if that!) to the only thing that really matters in their lives!
We want to follow the latest trends of church growth, believing there is something we are missing. Once we add one more staff position or one more program, our churches will become healthy. It’s a never-ending game. Haven’t we tried that long enough?
What would it mean for us to strip away the distractions and become a people who devoted ourselves to Scripture? I firmly believe that we would see a power in our churches like we’ve never experienced before.
This statement may be bold, but I believe it’s true. If you can accomplish your church’s mission without daily, passionate prayer, then your mission is insufficient and your church is irrelevant.
Our job is to reveal God to people. He is present in His Word, fellowship, Communion, and prayer. Rather than creating our own pep rallies, our calling is to simply put Him on display and watch as He draws people to Himself. If they are not interested in Him, what do we think we’re accomplishing by trying to lure them by other means? We have to accept the fact that not everyone is interested in God. We just need to make sure that it’s really God we are putting on display. Otherwise we run the risk of people attending our services who have merely fallen in love with us.
Mike Breen said, “Most of us have become quite good at the church thing. And yet, disciples are the only thing that Jesus cares about, and it’s the only number that Jesus is counting. Not our attendance or budget or buildings.”4
We live in a time when people go to a building on Sunday mornings, attend an hour-long service, and call themselves members of the Church. Does that sound shocking to you? Of course not. This is perfectly normal. It’s what we grew up with. We all know good Christians go to church. But have you ever read the New Testament? Do you find anything in Scripture that is even remotely close to the pattern we have created? Do you find anyone who “went” to church?
We have come up with countless strategies to reach the lost when God promises that unity is the method that will work. Think about that: God gave us instructions on how to reach the world, yet we abandon the one set of instructions He gave us even as we scramble to create classes and programs and events that promote everything but the strategy God gave us!
What if we took God’s description of the Church as a family seriously? What would happen if a group of people sought Jesus fervently, loved one another sacrificially, and then shared the gospel boldly?
What if we followed God’s design for the Church and in doing so allowed the Church to be pruned down to only those who wanted to obey His command to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12)? We might actually find that a pruned tree would bear more fruit (v. 2). We might discover that the branches that weren’t bearing fruit were actually sucking all the life out of the tree.
We have to stop viewing church leaders as people who minister to us. God clearly explained their role. It was not to coddle you but to equip you. Think personal trainer, not massage therapist.
Leaders have become like personal trainers who lift the weights for their clients. They run on the treadmill while their trainees sit and marvel. Then we wonder why we the people aren’t developing.
In speaking of the church, Paul said, “When each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Eph. 4:16). A church grows to maturity only when each part is “working.” If we give up on the goal of having all members exercise their spiritual gifts, we are destined for perpetual immaturity.
Paul expected the Church to produce courageous, hardworking saints, who are unfazed by false teachings and able to resist temptation (Eph. 4:11–14). In describing his goal for those he pastored, Paul used the phrases “mature manhood” and “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (v. 13). Does this describe your church members?
At the end of the day, it’s about what we produce. We can get so focused on getting people through our doors that we don’t think about what goes out. The Church’s purpose is not just to exist. It’s to produce.
“Are we just good at getting people together once a week and maybe into a small group, or are we actually good at producing the types of people we read about in the New Testament? Have we shifted our criteria for a good disciple as someone who shows up to our stuff, gives money and occasionally feeds poor people?”1
When I read about the apostle Paul, I am challenged to become like him. When I read of his longing for Christ (Phil. 1:21–26), perseverance through suffering (2 Cor. 11:16–33), and love for people (Rom. 9:1–3), it stirs me. I want to look like him. I want his peace. Like Paul, I want to come to the end of my life and know that I didn’t waste it. It’s his example, not his words, that moves me.
Just because you walk into a building with the word Church painted on a sign doesn’t mean God sees it as an actual church.
This is a common scenario in churches. Prayer, Communion, fellowship, and Bible reading don’t attract large crowds. So we start adding elements that will attract people. We accomplish a goal, but it is the wrong goal. There comes a point when so many additions are made that you can no longer call it a church. I agree with the poignant words of A. W. Tozer when he wrote, “Our most pressing obligation today is to do all in our power to obtain a revival that will result in a reformed, revitalized, purified church. It is of far greater importance that we have better Christians than that we have ...more
If Scripture commands us to serve one another, isn’t it a bit strange that we give people a free pass?
Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is challenge those we love, and a little pressure doesn’t hurt.
The Church was supposed to be a breeding ground for pastors and elders. Every church should be equipping people and sending them out.
It’s time to put some loving pressure on ourselves and those around us. This is everyone’s responsibility. Only when we become servants will we experience the Holy Spirit as Jesus intended. Only then will the Church resemble the Christ they worship.
No one is called to be constantly fed without leading and feeding others.
Leaders, I want to challenge you to examine your lives and see whether you can truly tell people in good conscience to follow you as you follow Christ.
I have been joining with my elders to pray Ephesians 3:14–19
God has always championed the humble person who passionately seeks Him.
One of the most debilitating issues facing the Church is the lack of maturing her members. Churches are filled with children who never grow up to become parents.
My goal in shepherding has changed so much. Long gone are the days when I am content with a bunch of people who sing loud, don’t divorce, and give to missions. I now want to know I can drop off any member of my church in a city and that person could grow in Jesus, make disciples, and start a church. My faith in the Holy Spirit’s power convinces me this is possible. It is in our very DNA. We all have been given a spirit of courage and the power to do beyond what we can imagine. We must train our people to be independently dependent on the Holy Spirit. While many pastors boast of how many ...more