Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Spring Cleaning

We have had a lot going through our minds lately. God had been showing us some crazy stuff and leading us in a different direction. Either of us could go on for hours about how He has been moving in our lives. The following is something I wrote which shows just a snapshot of what's been going on. It's a little rough and I know some thoughts could be developed more, but I will give you an idea of what we've been thinking.

The church as we know it needs a total overhaul. It’s time for spring cleaning. The rooms need to be emptied and reorganized. No one can deny that the church in North America is dying. More people are leaving church and less people are finding church. Why? Because we have strayed so far from our roots. It’s like this. Back in the New Testament, the church was this nice little clean room. Over the years we’ve accumulated boxes of junk. At one point in time that junk was brand new and did what it was supposed to. However, over time we realized it really had no purpose and it was tossed aside for the latest thing that would also eventually end up becoming junk. Those boxes of junk have piled up and up and up. Most are used, but they are never gotten rid of. There’s always that one person that wants to keep that piece of junk around “just in case.” What does this junk look like? Ministry philosophies. Styles of worship. Building styles. Preaching techniques. Traditions. And on and on.

It’s time the church goes through some good old-fashioned spring cleaning. What happens during spring cleaning? Does someone go into that room and rearrange the boxes? No. All the boxes get taken out. Each one is emptied and the contents examined. What’s junk is recognized as junk and gets thrown out—never to be seen again. It’s not easy. In fact, the mess usually grows before any real results are seen. Getting rid of all the non-essentials of our churches (including buildings being called churches when the church is a living organism) is going to be messy. It will not be quick and smooth. There will probably be pain. Someone will probably get offended.

But we need to examine the Bible with fresh eyes. We need to stop looking through our boxes of junk and into the Bible. We need to remove the boxes of junk and study the life of Jesus and the early church with sincerity and without our own agendas in mind (no matter how noble they may seem). If we are honest with ourselves and hold each box of junk up to the light of Scripture, and get rid of all the junk that has accumulated in the church over the years that does not line up with Scriptures, we’ll get back to that clean room of the New Testament church. That’s right, we might actually start resembling the church in the New Testament. The church as the church was meant to be. We will no longer have to read our boxes of junk into the Bible, because all that will be left of the church is the people of God, coming together to love one another, serve others, and worship Him. I’m mean, that’s really what it’s all about anyway, right?

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree w/ you. "Radical" ideas such as ours usu. end up getting "troublemakers" like me removed from church boards and untrue rumours spread.

    "How dare we question cherished traditions! We had a full church back in the early '60s when we did things this way."

    "What makes you think that the pastor's wrong? He has two Master's degrees from two different Bible colleges and can quote from the Bible chapter and verse." Any of these things sound familiar? Been there.

    As long as the North American church continues to wallow in Biblical illiteracy, it will continue to struggle. Pastors are not infallible, they are sinful human beings just like the rest of us. It is the responsibility of church leadership to challenge and keep a pastor accountable, not to be a Quorum of Yes-Men that cover-up for him. Why have a church board if their only purpose is to approve the pastor's whims? Pastors must be under greater scrutiny not less. Jesus had Twelve Disciples not because He needed them, but to present an example for church leaders and pastors to emulate.

    As long as churches are run by corrupt or incompetent ministers supported by a small handful of deep-pockets, we will only continue to accumulate more juncqe and struggle at our primary purpose.

    Paul commended the Bereans for searching the Scriptures and testing everything against the Word of God. In the 21st Century North American church, we are expected to accept the opinions of a minister as Gospel, and called "trouble-makers" for raising any objection.