Before I launch into how YOU and ME are killing the Church, I need to clarify on WHO the YOU are in this article.
There are 3 branches within Christianity: Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox. Once you enter into one of these realms, there are many options to choose from. I am not trying to make Christianity sound like an all-you-can-eat buffet; however, there are many flavors within Christianity.
I am writing to all 3 “branches” of Christianity.
We are killing the Church. YOU AND ME.
There are many things that are stunting the growth and influence of the Church worldwide; however, the biggest problem is with those of us that call ourselves “Christians”. Before we can address other things that are killing the Church, we need to look at ourselves and how we are impacting (or imploding) the Church and the community at large.
Let me challenge you with the following questions/thoughts:
What are you doing for spiritual growth?
Many people will answer “go to church” or “pray” but these are very broad and may not strike our inner core. Going to church is important but attendance alone will not make us better disciples. Praying is great but we often approach it like ordering off of the dollar menu at Mc Donald's. “I'll take an order of having a blessed day with a side of smiley faces”.
Spiritual formation starts at home. Find a way to read and study the Bible. If you are getting tired of thee's and thou's----then stop reading the King James Version. Talk to other people and ask them what version(s) they use. You should take some time to visit a bookstore and buy some books to aide you in your journey. After all, the Christian life is a journey, a process, a marathon; it is not a destination.
We need to pray daily and pray often. Our prayers should be deep prayers that bend and break the inner hardness of our heart and transform our mind. Additionally, the community that we involve ourselves in will be foundational to our spiritual formation. If you are a church-going person, do you attend church with an expectation to hear from God when you are at church? If you do not attend church, I am challenging you to find somewhere to plug in.
Spiritual formation is each Christian’s responsibility. Our pastor, spouse, children, friends, and family---they may aid us in the journey but it is our responsibility to get fed spiritually.
Who are you impacting for the Kingdom?
The Christian’s life is not always defined by what they are building now but in who and what they leave behind them. The Gospel is two-fold: delivering those whom are oppressed and leading others to salvation in Christ.
Oppressed people are not always the poor and marginalized. The oppressed might be people that are caught up in addictions. The oppressed might be people that have chased every earthly comfort known to man and are still not content. If we look deep enough, we will see people in our everyday lives that are caught up in some type of bondage. When it comes to dealing with others who are struggling with some sort of trauma, addiction, or pain; we need to ask Christ to help us be an agent of healing. People don’t need our cooked-up opinions; they need the love of God. Don’t just pray for people when they are not around; pray with people on the spot!
Salvation is the act of people surrendering their life to Jesus. We must remind ourselves that everyone’s journey looks different. Some people run to the church altar and some find God while drinking coffee with a friend. Salvation may be an event for one person--but for another person it may be a series of events that eventually leads to their surrendering to God.
If we are Christians, our lives will point others to Jesus. This does not mean that we have life figured out and we are sinless. On the contrary, our lives will show that we are vulnerable to God and to others. Guarding our hearts is essential too as everyone does not need to know every detail of our lives (I blame Facebook for this!).
If you died today, what would you leave behind? Would people just say you were a nice person? Wow, that is boring! My mailman is “nice”. The cashier here at Panera Bread is “nice”. What you build for the Kingdom is more than bricks and mortar; it is a matter of really leaving behind a life that points people to more of God and less of you and me.
Will you join me?
You and I are the greatest problem and solution to the Church’s woes. Our stubbornness to play God has cost us all something. I am not perfect and Lord knows I cannot even pretend to have it all together. Did you know that many of the hospitals, universities, and major social justice movements happened because of active movement by Christians? Schools were built, the sick were tended to, and the jobless were pointed towards work or provided with skills. Widows were prayed over and showed love. Children were given guidance and education so they could better themselves and their communities.
It starts with one.
It starts with me.
It starts with you.
Will you join me in the journey?
The Church (and the world) needs less of you and me…...and more of Jesus.