What is it that we are looking for in our churches? What are we willing to tolerate because we receive the many benefits the church has to offer? Are we willing to challenge our churches to do more?
I am astonished that there are churches who pat themselves on the back because they have "given" millions of dollars to "missions" but the truth of the matter is that the "missions" money may actually cover the salary of a missions' pastor, media expenses, or perhaps a self promoting event. Shouldn't missions money be committed to the parts of our country and world who are lost and hurting? The idea of "given" implies that it wasn't God's in the first in place. It is ALL God's money...what does He want the church to do with it?
I dream of American churches who are no longer focused on building programs that continue to serve themselves. I dream of American churches who no longer ask what do our members want, but rather how can we guide our members to serve and love like Christ. I dream of American churches who do not settle for giving a small percentage of their overall tithes and offerings to missions, but rather give and give until it hurts. Churches that sacrifice something like a billboard in order to build a well in Africa. I dream of American churches that no longer focus on how to get more people to come to their building of worship, but rather how they can go to the people and worship with them...in the street...in their homes...in places that take them out of their comfort.
I know I am not alone in this dream. I know that others see the same thing I see and feel the same urgency to minister to the lost and hurting. One of the problems is that the members of the church are asking their leaders to continue to provide programing for themselves. The members want the church to disciple their children. The members demand that their church keep up with the mega church. Why? Why have we become an entitled church? Why are we raising a generation of children who feel they are entitled?
I have thought about this entitlement issue for years. Honestly, there may not be an easy answer to why? I realize that, but I know that if we were raising a generation of children who were in love with Jesus and gave their hearts and lives to Him alone they would not feel entitled, but they would feel compelled to do more for others in order to give God, not themselves, the glory! We need churches who push us to think outside of ourselves. We need pastors and leaders who are willing to love us enough to challenge us. We need Bible study teachers who open the Bible and teach the Word of God with such passion that we want to learn more. We need to serve others more than we demand others to serve us!
In the last month, I have attended a church conference and had many conversations with great friends. I have heard truth, God's truth, and I have also seen heads nod yes to false statements. I am amazed at how someone can publicly speak with confidence and the words out of their mouths are not biblically sound, yet the audience heads continue to nod yes. I want to stand up and shout NO! Think for yourselves...not about yourselves...think of what Jesus would do...not what can the church do for me...think how can I serve the lost and hurting...and not what program could help me keep the kids entertained.
Let me take a second to say I am not writing about a particular church...I am certainly not writing about my place of worship. I am writing about the shift our church (the collective church) must make in order to do what God has asked us to do. I am writing about Christians funneling what their church says and does through the Word of God and demand that their church be different...demand that their church make a difference in all nations.
"Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
"Don't do anything from selfish ambition, or from a cheap desire to boast; but be humble towards each other, never thinking you are better than others. And look out for each other's interests, not just for your own." Philippians 2:3-4
I want so desperately for my four children to love others as only a believer who has given their life completely to the One who has saved them can. I will not leave it to the church to disciple them. It will not be a church program that teaches them how to glorify God in everything they do and say. This desire requires walking with them and serving the lost and hurting. We will study the Word of God and ask, "What can I do?". I will start with me. I will start with my family. I will allow our Shepherd to guide us along the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (Psalm 23).