I have been doing a lot of thinking about modern day churches. Now, I’m not pastor of a church and I consider such a position honorable and difficult to tackle and thus respect any man who takes on that task. But as a person on the outside of church staff looking in, I have seen some things going on in modern churches that just seems off to me. The things I am about to mention are mainly in megachurches and some newer, up and coming churches. I’m not claiming to know all the answers; rather, I am simply seeking. If anyone has any suggestion as to solve these problems, I would love to know.
1. Styles of Worship– Now I’m the first person to tell you that I can’t stand solely hymnal worship. I can sing the occasional hymn, but if that is all that worship is on Sunday mornings…well, honestly I get bored. However, there are many dangers that come along with the ‘rock concert’ worship as well. Though the music is louder and more inspiring, often times churches are taking ‘worship’ to a new level. In order to stay relevant, modern day churches are using fog machines, filming with video and snapping photos of the band doing their thing, using flashy lighting, and causing all sorts of similar distractions that it’s really hard to get to a genuine place of worship. I’m not saying playing guitar and drums is evil, but rather I want to challenge my brothers and sisters in the faith to consider what is really necessary during worship. What is good? And when do the ‘good’ things end up replacing the ‘best’ thing, namely genuine praise and glory given to God? Furthermore, many churches in today’s society are accepting the use of secular music to relate to the secular community. But what fellowship does light have with darkness? (See 2 Corinthians 6:14) Are we beginning to care more about attendance than we care about genuine worship?
2. Staying Relevant– Many churches now-a-days are so eager to reach the Millennials (youth born between 1980 and 2000) that they are accepting some odd concepts. I have been to several churches that now encourage people to bring iphones and ipads and what not into church and use them actively. Now what is happening goes beyond opening your Bible app and following along as your pastor reads. In fact, some leaders are encouraging their congregation to update facebook statuses, send tweets and even text people during service as a way of outreach and spreading the good news. While evangelism and preaching are good things, are we yet again replacing the best thing for what’s merely good? Shouldn’t our focus be to become more like Christ, not just to increase our numbers? A lot of this influence is coming from the younger generations, people who think we need to be more flashy and technologically focused in order to stay relevant. But I believe this social media fad is causing further distractions that keep us from focusing fully on the message God desires us to hear. And the constant distractions of our technology are making us worse communicators and thus we struggle more when it comes to evangelizing and preaching about Jesus.
3. Watered-Down Preaching– Because so many churches are focused on bringing more people to church (a noble concept in and of itself), there are many new believers or people unfamiliar with the faith in our churches today. This is not a bad thing; in fact, it is always a good thing to have people coming around to hear the truth of God’s Word. However, the problem therein comes when we change our methods of preaching to ‘make sense’ to the young-in-the-faith. A common synonym is ‘watered-down preaching.’ Because some leaders are scared that the raw message of the Bible will go in one ear and out the other with many in the congregation, they alter the message and break it down. This belief is true though; unless people have the Holy Spirit within them, they will not understand all the deep mysteries of God. Now it is always good to analyze Scripture–I’m not arguing against that; but when we break Scripture down to the point that we are relying more on human wisdom and eloquent speech rather than the power of the Holy Spirit, we have by far missed the mark. God needs no help from man. Furthermore, Paul states that man is only capable of watering and planting seeds (See 1 Corinthians 3:1-9). God alone can make that seed of light grow within a person. Now at the same time, new believers and nonbelievers need spiritual milk, that is they need simpler messages. This should certainly be given to them to help them grow and mature, just as a baby needs milk to grow physically. But the more mature in the faith are suffering as a result of too much milk! Let’s ask ourselves: are we teaching the Bible uncompromisingly or are we pouring so much water that we drown out God’s voice? Do we even rely on the Holy Spirit anymore or are we too confident in our own abilities?
4. Unwise Usage of Money– Many churches today are blessed in magnificent ways. Unfortunately, many of those are blessed financially. I say unfortunately, because Jesus even warns us: ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God’ (Mark 10:25). Money is a huge topic in the Bible, because money is always competing with God for our attention. We cannot serve both God and money. This is a difficult topic since people need money to survive, but modern day churches have begun to lose focus of what really matters. Now, we spend millions upon millions of dollars on buildings, renovations of current buildings and church staff salaries, but we see very little of the millions of dollars going towards ministries, especially that of mission work. With even a small fraction of a million dollars, we could completely revolutionize places in Africa such as Kenya, Mexico and other less fortunate countries.
5. Self-Centeredness– This goes close in hand with pride. I have seen a lot of pride in churches. We are all capable of pride, but that is such a deadly sin to fall in to. We must be careful, especially leaders of churches, to never convince ourselves that we’ve got it all together. We will NEVER have it all together. We are all imperfect, sinful and often times foolish. When leaders start living their lives in a way that convinces the people around them that they do little to no wrong, we fall into a deadly trap of the devil. So many churches start out on the right track, but then their own desires get in the way and they backslide, though subtly. Then we are left with congregations of mindless zombies who live on every word of the mouth of ‘Pastor Somebody.’ But Jesus says that man should live ‘by every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4). Man is unreliable and selfish. God alone is worthy of our trust. Now that does not mean we hate or condemn anyone, but we keep that truth in mind, so that we are not dragged away by erroneous thinking. Often times, it is pride that leads church leaders to pursue their own interests, and they ultimately become deafened to rebuke. No man is above reproach. No one is exempt from correction. But I personally struggle with knowing how to approach someone who is in a higher position of authority than I am. I’m not sure how to help improve this issue. It’s especially difficult when everyone discredits you instantly if you’re not a pastor or some other church leader.
Conclusion: There are other issues in modern day churches, but these are just a few. I am not claiming to be better than anyone, and I don’t claim that I have all these issues figured out and perfected in my own life. I don’t. And as I said before, I’m no pastor, and I certainly have no experience with the day-to-day activities of that lifestyle. I respect pastors and what they do. The purpose of this post is to challenge our thinking. I’m seeking answers, but I want answers that are guided by God’s truth. I care nothing for man’s opinion, but only seek to glorify God to my utmost ability. I hope that is the desire of all Christians. We should seek always to be more like Christ; then, we should seek to pour in to others, but always maintaining this mindset: ‘So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God’ (1 Corinthians 10:31). I would love to hear other people’s thoughts, whether you agree with me or not, but please respond in a loving way :)