They went far from Me, and walked after emptiness and became empty– Jeremiah 2:5b NASB
The Western Church is in crisis.
I think it’s because somehow over last century or so both Church-goers and Church leaders have lost sight of what a real spiritual win looks like (Judges 21:25). As a result, there is little actual spiritual power in the lives of most church-goers.
The lack of real spiritual power has left the church incapable of transforming people and society.
The average church-goer has gone after all the wrong spiritual objectives in life (Jeremiah 2:5). For many the primary aim of the Christian life has become one of personal fulfillment. In the minds of the average Western church-goer God exists mostly to meet human needs and fulfill personal desires. Many feel God’s job is to make us happy and fix our problems. If God fails to provide what we want in a timely manner or in the way we want it we find a new spiritual model, hobby or cause that gives us more of what we think we need. Sometimes, this involves Christians making flowery proclamations on social media stating their intention to “reimagine”, “deconstruct” or “reinvent” their faith. Those expressions are all just twenty-first century colloquialisms for willfully choosing to create a new god in our own image. The “reimagined” or “reconstructed” God is always a little more progressive and tolerant than the God of the Bible. The new God is always willing to put His (or Her) blessing on self-actualization that leads to selfishness, sexual sin and bitterness.
Christian leaders have looked to God primarily for a sense of achievement. When leaders lack an understanding of their purpose God becomes a means to an end rather than the whole goal of the Christian life. Leaders who lack an understanding of their purpose kingdom build. However, instead of building God’s Kingdom they build their own. These leaders end up working really hard to create a cool place for people to hear them speak. On the surface this can appear to be a good thing. However, the environments these leaders construct inevitably lack the power to bring Christians and non-Christians out of their sin and selfishness and into right relationship with God.
It’s a hot mess.
The answer to the problem is simple. However, that does not necessarily mean it will be easy to actualize the solution. In order to solve it we must rethink a whole bunch of different things including our perspectives on what God is for, what the church is for and what the outcome of Christianity is supposed to be. This will take a combination of humility, self-awareness and a willingness to make hard changes.
Unfortunately, most humans suck at all that stuff.
Mercifully, what is impossible for man is possible with God (Matthew 19:25-26, Luke 18:27). The Western church will regain its purpose and spiritual power when God’s people go back to the Bible and seek to understand what God really says about the mission of the Church.
The gospel message is the mission. Period. The average Christians job is to tell everyone they know how Jesus can transform a person and change the trajectory of their life (Matthew 28:18-20, 2nd Corinthians 5:17). Ephesians six commands Christins to “put on the shoes of the gospel of peace”. That directive is a statement of our mission as believers. We exist to take Jesus into every interaction we have and every situation we find ourselves. In order to do that well we must live lives that reflect the goodness, kindness and moral purity of Jesus.
Christian leaders are to be in the business of building and growing people spiritually and morally. Leaders should be all about teaching the average Christian to use their gifts and abilities to grow the kingdom of God (Ephesians 2:10, Ephesians 4:11-14). Leaders must emphasize the importance of spiritual growth, emotional health and holiness in their teaching, preaching and interactions with church people.
The goal of every Christian leader should be for every person in their body to be told “well done good and faithful servant” on judgment day by Jesus (Matthew 25:21). When that happens leaders will hear the same.
If we want to win the world to Jesus everything we do as believers must be done in a spirit of humility. Church-goers must tell the world about Jesus with an attitude of grace and love that shows the world that everything we say about our God is true. Church leaders must manage their lives and ministries in such a way that church people become a natural reflection of the leaders in their lives (Romans 12:8).