Am I angry? Most definitely! I'm angry that what passes for church today is nothing more than a sham! It's out right blasphemy in a lot of cases. It angers me that sin is being let into the church in epic proportions and no one seems to be stopping it. It angers me that Christians are sitting back in the pews and allowing church to be taken over by culture and entertainment. It grieves me that there is no respect and no reverence in many churches. It angers me that Christians think it's okay for churches to have rock concerts, take their youth groups to the movies, have variety shows, have easter egg hunts and Halloween parties, and basically turn the house of God into nothing more than a carnival! It angers me that Christians are okay with women pastors, paid musicians who are hired on the basis of musical ability and have no testimony of salvation, Sunday school teachers who are living in adultery and fornication, elders and deacons who think drinking alcohol is okay, and Bible studies written by men (and women) who are heretics. It upsets me that churches and pastors are not speaking out against Billy Graham's universal salvation, against John MacCarthur's bloodless atonement, against James Dobson's dangerous self-esteem philosophies, against Rick Warren's purpose driven heresy, and against the Alpha course's obvious doctrinal error and ecumenicalism.
[Does it sound like I've calmed down? Really, it was much worse earlier].
I get that church is not a building, it's people. It's supposed to be born-again, blood washed, saved people. I don't think it's like that any more. I'm personally convinced that churches (buildings) are full of people who have never been saved. That must be the case, or there would be more of an outcry agains these false teachings, sinful practices, and heresies. I'm also convinced that many of those in churches who are saved are at best weak Christians and probably not reading their Bibles on a regular basis. Don't get me wrong. I'm not perfect. I don't read my Bible nearly as much as I should! I'm no super-spiritual giant, always doing everything right, witnessing everyday, Christian. I realize I have a long way to go. But if I, in my shortcomings, can see the error and wickedness that exists inside the church, why does it seem that no one else can see it? I know there's a lot more mature, wiser Christians than I am in my community. Why do they seem to be blinded?
I'm not against having fun in church. I like a family board games night just as much as the next person. I enjoy drinking coffee and eating donuts on a Sunday night after the service. But, too often our "fun" is crossing into territories of sin, and allowing worldliness and wickedness into our churches. Too often our social activities are becoming the focus instead of the gospel and the Word of God.
I'm not against using promotions for outreach either. I think a video about Creation is a great outreach tool. I think Sunday's with a special emphasis on bringing a friend is an excellent way to reach people. I'm even in favour of giving visitors a free gift when they come to church. I am against using any and all means to supposedly reach people for Christ, without any consideration for the sinfulness in some of these methods. Rock concerts have no place in church, and neither to dance shows, or movies with "almost" curse words, violence, or people in questionable situations. Those things just shouldn't be happening in church, and yet they are! It's sad.
This "vent" was provoked by several incidents/events that have taken place in churches in my area over the past year or so. I seriously considered listing them specifically with Scripture to show why they were wrong. I prayed about it. After all, someone needs to tell these people that what's going on is not right, and that it displeases God. However, I'm not going to write that list. It's not because I'm scared to, or because I don't think it's necessary. I definitely think it's necessary. But, if the people in these churches really cared to know, all they need to do is a simple google search. There's tons of online ministries devoted to helping expose error and compromise in the church. Many people think these type of ministires are hateful, but calling out sin is never wrong. Sin needs to be confronted, confessed, and crucified. I'm grateful for the many discernment websites that are not ashamed of taking a stand against doctrinal error in the church. They've certainly helped me avoid some really awful stuff that's being passed off as Christian.
I remember a time, not too long ago, when being "culturally relevant" didn't matter to a church. I remember when churches and pastors were more concerned about being a good testimony than fitting in with the crowd. I remember when separated, holy living was the norm, and when Christians were encouraged to look and act different than the world. Now it seems like in order to be a "good" Christian, you need ten piercings, a cross tattoo, and leather jacket! I remember when church buildings were used for church. Now they are used for banquet halls, spaghetti dinners, babysitting courses, horticultural society meetings, fitness classes, and classical music concerts. I remember when people had respect for God's house, and wouldn't dream of allowing an unsaved person sing, speak, or teach in a church (even if it wasn't on a Sunday).
Church is special.... the people AND the building AND what goes on inside the building. Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 ...I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. It's not our church; it's His church. Too many people have gotten this idea that they need to "fix" church, so that people will "like" it better. I'm pretty sure if it's Jesus who's building the church it's not broken, and we don't need to be fixing it. The problem is that the "fix" has done the opposite. It's broken the pattern set up in the Bible for what church is supposed to be. So, what is church supposed to be? If anyone cared to know, they could look it up in the book of Acts. But I fear that's kind of like doing that google search to find out if the author of the latest small group study your church is doing even believes you have to repent of your sin to be saved. They won't bother to do the google search, because they guy that wrote the Bible study is a best selling author, so he MUST be good. They won't bother to really study Acts because someone said church is supposed to be like this in the 21st century. They have no idea that at one time church was more about preaching and teaching than it was about praise are worship music, fundraisers, and BBQ's.
Yes, the church is people, but the building is important to God too! Jesus threw the money-changers out of the temple and rebuked them for making God's house a den of thieves. I believe there's a lot of churches out there that have been turned into den's of thieves today, and we Christians are turning a blind eye to it, just like the religious leaders were in Jesus' day. Then the Bible says this about the church.
I Timothy 3:15
But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
I find it interesting that it's the house (NOT PEOPLE) of God that's referred to as the church of the living God in this verse. The building and how we behave ourselves in it is important to God too!