I am talking about the condition of the modern, sort of “concept” church. A Church modeled after our culture rather than invading and inviting our culture, passionately, to come here the Gospel – the message that the Son of God, Jesus, died for them on the Dross and they can be saved, redeemed, forgiven and made new, radically, this very day. So, here is my wise old critique of Starbuck’s (chain-concept) churches. It is what I have observed. I say this as an admonition, yes, but also as a positive challenge. Here it is:
Glib – Always wearing a face or “mask” that is not authentic; one that MIMICS the culture of the world. (This benefits whom? One should ask.)
Avoidance of Offending Anyone – Similar and insidious as Glib. The preaching/teaching/message overall a “Clanging Cymbal.” Where is the love? One must teach the Truth, in Love, and let the Holy Spirit move properly in people’s hearts. Why would the Leader be so preoccupied with NOT offending people? People inwardly are demanding answers: the Truth! People WANT to be saved and may not know how, every Sunday.
A famous preacher said recently that “If you are saved, you are going to Heaven. So, it doesn’t matter if you’re Muslim, it doesn’t matter (oblique reference to being homosexual), you are going to Heaven.” I think he may have misspoken. Surely he meant that anyone – Muslim, gay, anyone – who accepts Christ as Lord is saved. Also, that sinner repents of his sins, is baptized, and begins to live a new life in Christ according to the Bible. The fruit of the spirit should begin to sprout from them! (I am sure he misspoke; though I never heard a retraction.) What this preacher did say would fit into the growing Universalism and Lifestylism (my word!) that is sprouting madly throughout Christendom. Life hurts. We all want to feel good, numb out, and seek pleasure (not sacrifice!)
Immature – The spiritual and natural attitudes of the Leadership rule the church. Outside their Leadership and their Circle, input is seen as intrusive. At the far end of input is “prophetic input.” The prophetic, outside any prophecies revealed within the leadership circle, is seen as something to be put up with; weird, suspect and unwelcome. After all, who is someone else to tell the Leaders what to do, how to change, what is coming, or simply, what is? This is quite dangerous. It quenches the Holy Spirit. It also prohibits important information from being reviewed, prayed about and used appropriately, perhaps even urgently. It is because people – though we are all equal to God – want power, prestigious and to be seen at the Top. It is such an old story that it is trite. Sad.
Shallow – Appearances are almost paramount, in every sense. Don’t mess with those appearances unless you want to kick over an ant’s nest! Looks are carefully crafted that much is invested in them, whether or not they work. This dynamic combines Glib, Avoidance and Immature. In some instances, the Pastor and perhaps his wife/family are considered Royalty, literally given royal titles or super-prominent titles. This confounds me. We are rags and Christ is the King of Kings. Stemming from such an imperious stature, the First Family is entitled to the best in material things (cars, homes, clothes, you name it), and the congregation is expected to uphold this theory. The theory obviously involves the allocation of funds. Therefore, considering the need in the world and Jesus’ admonition to help the poor first and foremost, this seems bizarre at best.
Hey, I love a good espresso drinks and I go to Starbuck’s (hypocrite, I know, and I LOL at myself.) I love wearing jeans, respecting authority, a beautiful environment, a coffee shop, all of that at church. I am not coming down on that. What preoccupies me, though, are chain-concept style churches and the caffeine rather than Water of Life that flows through them. I love you, Kris