Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How I Feel About the American Church

I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a sponsored ad for a Free Movie Night in my city, Burbank, by a new church. I thought, “Oh great, a new church.” So I proceeded to click on the ad and go to the church’s page to find out who they were, what they believed, etc. 

As I was reading through their Baptist mission and learning about the pastor and his wife and their 3 kids and all the great things pastors from around the country said about them... and their 5 year budget... and their outreach plan... I started to get sad.

 Naturally, I watched their Vimeo promo convincing givers that LA had 19 million people and most of them are lost so they are going to plant a church and save LA and in turn, save the world.
I thought, “Do they realize there are already a lot of churches here? Do they realize there are already a lot of Christians here?”
Yet the attitude was that this one pastor was called to “Antioch” from Woodstock and in 5 years he was going to have a huge congregation (since he had already successfully baptized 1000 youths from his previous ministry) and the money was going to be flowing and the community was going to transform and everything was going to be perfect...
Now don’t get me wrong, it sounds like I am tearing this church apart and I’m slightly exaggerating (though not much) to make my point. The pastor and his family are probably amazing, Jesus loving people. It’s the attitude of American Christians that is starting to frustrate/confuse/anger me. Instead of having 1 million churches with usually 1 or 2 guys running the show, what if Christians started pulling together and supporting the churches that are already in place? Build up what’s already established in a community. Offer your time and gifting for the sake of the body, not so you can headline your Sunday Sermon. America DOES NOT need more churches!!! American churches need unity.  They should support each other.  Why do we need so many denominations?  Because everyone thinks that their interpretation of scripture is the right one so they need to branch out and put a slight twist on whatever theology they were under?  Is pride the issue?  What is keeping the Church from rising in the power of unity? I don’t know if there are, but it would be cool to see a church with multiple teaching pastors. Not just 2, what about 10 or 20? There are a lot of people who are called to pastor but that doesn’t mean each one of them needs their own building and their own worship team and their own staff, etc. I wonder how the early churches really functioned in a city. Back then the gospel was spreading like wildfire so of course there were going to be churches popping up all over the place but we’re 2000 years down the road and the gospel has hit America. Ask a stranger if they’ve heard of the good news of Jesus and I guarantee you they will say yes. Most “lost” people aren’t “lost” they are just turned off. And not by Jesus but by Christians.  They see how petty our arguments are and backwards our priorities are and I think most of those “lost” people opt out. I grew up in the church and have had such a deep and personal relationship with Jesus that I could never deny that he is the Son of God but most of the time even I am turned off by Christians.
All this to say, I wish we could love our brothers and sisters more effectively and unite as the body of Christ. There’s no way we’re ever going to all agree but Christ has filled us with a love that can overlook the minor things. We are told not to judge. Christ is the judge and his verdict is that in Him we are righteous so there’s no need to keep coming up with creeds and sub-denominations and reformations and yada yada yada.  He’s going to come back for us, let’s celebrate that and invite others into our supernatural way of living and loving. Let’s offer the world our lives and leave no reason for anybody to not want to know our God.