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What's wrong with church

I am a church planter's wife and someone who believes in the hope and calling of local church ministry. I love the church. As such, I feel I have a right to be critical about what we don't do well. (This right is not unique to me, I realize...I'm just saying my observations are more of a self critique and not meant to be seen as me pointing the finger at others. )

I know there are some who don't believe in "organized" religion. I, for one, prefer it over disorganized religion, but whatever, maybe that's just my OCD. Honestly, biblically, I don't see how someone can defend a maturing walk with Christ that doesn't include a faithful commitment to a local church body. But that's a subject for another post.

The church is imperfect, primarily because it is made up of imperfect people. Our forms and structures vary even in instances when our theology and beliefs are the same. I do not expect any church to be doing everything perfectly. But, again--as a church planter's wife and someone deeply connected to the vision and direction of our church-- I do believe we are held accountable for how we do with the calling and mission God has given us.

I think we have a fundamental problem in our churches. You know what--scratch that. I think we have two problems. I want to get to the second, but let me address the first since it's kind of a big deal, too.

First and foremost, we are not gospel-centered churches preaching gospel-centered living. Instead of trying to unpack that statement myself, I'm going to direct you to a video of Matt Chandler addressing this very thing. I think he does a great job challenging pastors to come back to center in their leadership of their churches and their pulpit ministries. And as goes the leader, so goes the church. If you can, take 30 minutes and listen/watch this.

I think our churches are filled with people who have believed a false gospel. But something inside of me (hope?) feels we are waking up to that glaring issue, and I want to believe I sense a revival and a thirst for gospel-centered preaching and churches that elevate Jesus above all else and call us to lay down our lives. I feel like we are at least aware that we have gone off track here, and many are making course adjustments. Since the gospel is kinda the "main thing", that's certainly a good thing!, for our churches and for the body of Christ.

But--I still feel there is an area we are not addressing, an issue we are overlooking. A problem within our churches. And it has to do with church leadership. And the respect of it and submission to it.

Let's be honest. None of us really like to be told what to do. We accept and submit to authority structures when it comes to our jobs, our schools, our communities, even our marriages and families. But when it comes to the church, we do not believe leaders have a right to tell us what we should do.

I am aware that not all church leadership is godly. Sometimes, it's downright sinful and evil, and it has, at times, done much damage to the body of Christ. This is not what I'm talking about-- of course I would not suggest we submit to that kind of leadership. In this discussion, I'm going on the assumption that the leadership is God ordained and functioning according to the scriptural guidelines. I believe there are many churches led by godly men who seek the Lord's guidance and tenderly care for their flock. They take their responsibility seriously, knowing they will give an account one day for those in their care.

So the problem I'm addressing is not with ungodly leadership. It's with godly leadership that won't lead. And it's with the flock. With us.

Instead of going on and on, I invite you to listen to this sermon:

Lead, Follow, or get Leprosy
link to listen or download here)

Why do I think this is such a big deal? Because when leaders won't lead and members won't follow, nothing gets done. At least not with the kind of impact that God designed the church to have in His power. I believe this is why we have so many church hoppers, consumers who take the good teaching and fellowship a church offers but refuse to be accountable to a body and committed to one vision and under one leadership. If we as believers addressed this issue, I think we'd have more devoted Christ followers than mere Sunday attenders, less hypocrisy in our church, and more unity within our communities.

So that's my soapbox for the week. As someone in vocational ministry (well, my husband anyway), these are the kind of things I think about when my mind wanders.

Well, this and little Abby. : )


To God be the Glory! said...

Always blessed when you are on your soapbox, Rachel. Thank you.

I want to follow better... to submit humbly to our God ordained godly leadership at LBC. I fail so often, and yet like the Good Shepherd, our shepherds seek to restore. Thank you Joe, Eric, Josh, Dave, Jon. A special thanks also to my Larry <3

To God be the Glory!

Susan said...

Love you post. I am the wife of a youth pastor and a Church Planter. Our church is sending us out to plant a church in a city 20 minutes away. We are just in the beginning stages and are gaining steam.
We are also adopting from Ethiopia! We are currently paperchasing. Ugh...this feels like it will never end,but so did all my pregnancies:) I am glad I stumbled upon you blog! Looking forward to following your journey. I LOVE listening to Matt Chandler and David Platt. Both men push me to walk deeper with God.
We too believe too many people are stumbling about believing they have the Gospel, but it is a false Gospel, a prosperity gospel, a self-centered gospel. We will be praying for you and your family as you follow God. You have a beautiful family.

Janet said...

Thank you for honestly sharing those wandering thoughts. Just wanted to let you know that our 5 year old was very excited to hear that a little girl named Abby in Ethiopia will soon be coming home to a family. God is at work, and her prayers for Him to send moms and dads to go get the children without parents are being answered. Praise Jesus!!! Oh, and I like your choice of puzzles... we've got the same one!!! : )