So far I am managing to wrangle my borderline ADD into getting to this every night. Which is good because day 3 is here. This is a sort of a build on last night and a focus on what the church is doing wrong right now. Then there is a possible solution to the problem. I refuse to call it the right answer because there is always a better answer. This is worth considering.
As I did last night I will start with a little analogy-type story. When I was in middle school I played basketball and baseball. In both of these there are periods where you go through a slump. For those not sports savvy, this is a period of time when you either can't make simple shots or hit the ball (depending on the sport). In this slump period your coach can tell you one thing. They always tell you to go back to the basics. If it is basketball, you take out everything "fancy" and extraneous in your shooting motion and take it back to how you learned. In baseball you just focus on making contact and hitting the ball to find your groove before you can go back to swinging for the fences. Even professional athletes go back to the basics and just have to work through their slumps. Seattle Mariners RF Ichiro Suzuki says "When I am in a slump, I ask myself for advice." He knows you just have to go back and find a rythym so that you can work your way out.
I give you this story to say this. The church in America is in a slump. If you don't believe this, I will refer back to the statistic that 80% of churches are NOT growing. When churches aren't growing, they aren't doing something right. So what should the church do in this kind of slump? Well, I think we should go back to the basics. By the basics, I mean the church that does it right in Acts after Jesus ascends into heaven. This Church was the body, it was all based on relationships. There was no hierarchy, just people that were on fire for God. This point in time was the most explosive time of growth in the history of the church. The incredible thing is that this new "religion" of Christianity, then known as "the Way" branched out of a slumping religion. A religion that people had lost it's fervor for.
I am not suggesting we branch off and create a new religion. I am actually a proponent of the exact opposite. Let's take a look at the church from Acts. This church was built on relationships. It began as several small groups of people who would fellowship together and come together in a large group for corporate worship. They all felt comfortable with their faith and would go out and tell people of their faith. They would want to show people this new found Saviour who is the risen King. They wrote letters of encouragment to each other. They all functioned together as the Body of Christ. Church as it should be, all working together for Christ. So, why today, can we have churches on the same street that argue and won't come together to do the work of God? Why do we have denominations of Christianity that believe the same Holy Bible, the same God, the same Risen Saviour, and the same principles; but remain seperate because of a few issues based on Biblical interpretation that have very little effect on the goal of reaching people. Why in this Church does the Body not show love for one another as Christ loves us?
I think the problem today is that the Church in America is on its way back to the Church in Acts. The technological age has allowed for churches in different states and even countries to become interconnected in a web of sharing, loving, and community like never before. Now a church in Australia can have a band with great music that a band in Atlanta, Georgia can hear and within days, play for their congregation. Now, most of you are probably thinking, "Why is this a problem?" It is a problem because to get there, the church has taken a detour by the church of the days of Jesus. The legalistic church, the focus on elite, and the hierarchy is becoming prevalent in churches that are not part of this new "modern thinking" of a body of Churches to represent the Body of Christ.
The church today suffers from modern-day Sanhedrin and Pharisees. The Sanhedrin was a Jewish council of religous leaders. They determined the legalistic side of their religion. They were the "knowledgable" and were refered to for all knowledge. These could be likened to some of our commitees that are made up of a select few people that have power over everything in the church. Many churches may have everything from how the money is spent to how our services are run on Sundays. They would encompass the jobs of the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees. These are the people that flaunt their Christianity and feel they are better than you because they go to a better church or they are a better Christian. I am here to say that no one is a better person. "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23 NIV). These modern-day Sanhedrin run the church and determine how it goes. They have ornate prayers that are planned and constructed, instead of heartfelt and meaningful. These people judge others based on their opinions of right and wrong and they determine if you are worthy to hear the Word of God and the good news.
Well, Jesus told us to "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19) not just the ones we determine are worthy. Just to complete this history lesson, the Sanhedrin are the ones who plotted with Judas and tried Jesus under a shroud of secrecy. They then charged Him as guilty in a rigged trial of their people leading to His crucifixion.
So as I leave you with this post into your day, my prayer for you is to seperate yourself for the church culture that feels that they are better because they are the "RIGHT" church. Love others as Christ has loved you. Work with other Christians as you should for you are the Body of Christ and as the Body we need to work together. Show God's love through your actions and words. Most of all I pray that you can see the wrongs that have become so prevalent in our "church models" and stand up and fix these wrongs. If one part of the church is in a slump, we are all in a slump. I pray that we can come out of this slump together in hard work as we go back to the basics.
P.S. For those out there that want, this blog does have the ability for RSS feeds. Also, I plan to add a Twitter account and Facebook page solely for this blog within the coming week. Just pray for me and this blog and that it will touch others out there. Thank you all.