“_____ is the best church in our area. They have more stuff going on than every other church combined. They go on camping trips and fishing trips, have a soft ball league, have a special event for every holiday, ride ATV’s together, offer free nights at the water park and the go-cart track, they even have their own ice cream truck.” Well, that settled the debate for all who were listening, what other church can compete with an ice cream truck? I mean after all, to be viewed as a pillar of Christian religion in our community these things are now mandatory. A W Tozer once said “Most churches can’t operate having only a hymn book and a Bible.” Most shocking of all was Tozer made that statement in the 1950′s.
This is the view of many a church goer in America. Church is no longer a place of prayer, praise and preaching. While these three elements may remain in the church to some degree they are no longer the the primary role of the church. The driving force is now numbers, and by numbers I mean people, and lots of them. The surest way to attract people is to offer the things people want. You won’t win any BBQ competitions with tofu and you won’t attract large crowds by only offering preaching, prayer, and praise for a holy God. It’s simply does not appeal the masses.
But if you take it to be the goal of the church to “reach” people, then by all means reach them. Use every available option to get their attention. If I or anyone else criticizes this ideology, well we don’t love Jesus and aren’t concerned about lost people. Even worse, were just jealous of their success.
One has to wonder how the early church gained such a strong footing in the world with out the resources of modern churches. A study of this topic will quickly reveal the early church had a resource the modern church is void of: power from the Holy Spirit. Man kind does not like to rely on God’s help, he wants to do it all by himself. Therefore todays churches have found out how to draw people to themselves without the power of God. They have even made it their mission. The world agrees these are the best churches. Ravenhill said “The apostles had no gold, but lots of glory. We have lots of gold and no glory.”
It is no secrete that we preach the sovereignty of God in all things. Many people hate this doctrine. They are okay with God being sovereign over some things like the climate and solar system. Some go a step further and grant God to be sovereign over life and death, he may even control some governments they say. But when we say God is sovereign over the salvation of men’s souls they lose their minds. They will not back off their claim to man’s free will to choose or not choose to follow God.
They claim that if you take away free will, you make man a robot. I would argue that man is already a robot. He is a sin robot. He was born in sin and he can not stop sinning. Nor does he want to stop sinning. It is only the consequences of his sin that he fears. No one feels bad about speeding until they see the blue lights flashing. As long as man can justify his sin he’s okay with it and his free will will freely sin as long he can get away with it. That is until the blue lights flash on to his sins. Question: Who catches sinners in their sins? Is it the sinner who self arrests himself? Or is it a power higher than himself that intervenes and stops him in his sins? I think every honest Christian has to answer it is the Holy Spirit that convicts us of our sins and brings us to the place of faith and repentance.
Now that we’ve established it is the Spirit’s role to bring sinners before a holy God for reconciliation in Christ, some more questions are in order. How is it that most humans escape the Spirit? Is the Spirit of our God bad at his job? Is he so over worked and under manned that he catch them all? Or is the free will of man just to much for the third person of the Trinity? Or could it be that the Holy Spirit overcomes the individuals he sets out after?
You say “wait a minute, that makes God unfair!” How so? Did he promise to save everyone? Has he not offered the gospel world wide? Did God not send missionaries to every people group on the earth commanding all men everywhere to repent? The problem has never been that God is unjust but it has been that man is dead in his sins. Apart from a sovereign God taking an active role in drawing us to himself, no one would be saved. His sovereignty over us is not doctrine to be despised but rather an attribute to be praised.
Do you have any church clothes? You know, the clothes you only wear on a Sunday, because Sunday is the day you go to church. I had a friend who had work overalls (Mon-Sat) and new Sunday overalls for church. What is it about Sunday that makes us dress up? I know all the old arguments about wearing your best and I don’t disagree with that line of logic, but…
When did Sunday become our only day to meet with the Lord? I say “only day” because that is often the only day most people have any religious activities. Most church goers feel if they have devoted an hour or two to the Lord on Sunday, they’ve done their duty. They hang up their church clothes, store their Bibles, and get back to the real world. This routine is as normal as church clothes and work clothes. But there’s more to it than clothes.
Church clothes are a recent tradition in the history of Christianity, and so is one meeting a week. The early church held meetings of some kind just about every day of the week. They would have prayer meetings in homes on numerous occasions throughout the week. From Acts 19:9-10 we know Paul held daily classes in Ephesus for two years. Without buildings, it was common for churches to meet in multiple homes at the same time. These meeting were not one hour arrangements, they often went well into the night and some went all night. My how we’ve changed.
Why have we changed? We have our own buildings now, and there is plenty of room. (especially after Sunday morning) So how did this change take place? Well, we got busy, to busy. To busy to meet more than once a week. To busy to study at home. To busy to fellowship and pray with other believers during the week. Busy doing what? Work? Sports? Family? Yard? Hobbies? Rest? Clubs? Dare I say a TV show? Yes to all the above.
I know all these things have a rightful place in our lives. But, have you considered where you spend your time? Our service to the Lord and His saints can’t be fulfilled in an hour. The early church had what we seem to have lost, a daily devotion to the Church. Maybe they felt a deeper need for more time with God and his people? Back then the church wasn’t something you put on and hung back up. May God rekindle this daily desire in our day.