The standing joke is that if you give a million dollars to an American church, you’ll wind up paying for a new associate pastor, a new director of social media, a new “ministry” program, a new sound system, more moveable lights, a fog machine, two new large screens for the auditorium, a new cafe, and three high-definition video cameras.
But, if you give a million dollars to a missionary, a community gets fresh water, a hospital, a school, a commercial kitchen, 1,000 new Bibles and money left over to start several new businesses to help its impoverished residents.
The Christian church in America has been neutered. It has capitulated to the worldly culture surrounding it that permits churches time to pray and worship for only a few hours on Sunday morning, but strongly objects to any mention of God, Jesus or the Bible in the public square. Biblical truth is silenced so as not to offend the cherished “seekers.” Evangelism is often limited to pasting a “Jesus is Lord” bumper sticker on a car, or a magnet bearing the professionally designed logo and name the church.
You know the church has become corporate when, in order to become a member, it is no longer necessary to simply profess a belief in Christ. No, prospects must attend three months of classes, fill out an application, then sit for an interview before a panel of pastors and lay people who eventually determine if the applicant is Christian enough for membership.
Each year, ten members will spend $2,500 apiece to spend a week oversees laying bricks and painting walls and call it “missions” when they could send the money to a missionary to pay local labor for months worth of work. All the while, they ignore the decaying culture in America and give no consideration to the millions of lost souls in their own country.
They’ll plan a “Christmas outreach,” which is generally a children’s musical and advertise it in local media, but members and leaders don’t know the first names of neighbors living a block down the street.
It is so bad that most local nursing homes have to hire a part-time, temporary worker between November 15 and December 30 just to manage all the well-meaning Christian groups seeking to spread “Christmas cheer” to shut-ins by people who ignore the elderly confined in the facilities the other 10.75 months of the year.
American churches lead countless “Who is Jesus” classes to usually portray Christ as a meek and mild man willing to go along to get along with others. They generally preach a watered-down Gospel message void of any discussion of repentance, accountability and self-sacrifice.
Many large churches have become more like corporations peddling market-tested, feel-good messages preceded by what could easily be mistaken for a loud rock concert. They implement policies that prohibit and discourage actual intimacy among members where “community” is nothing more than small groups meeting twice a month for 90 minutes while segregated by age, sex, marital status and whether people have children or not.
The American church is deluding itself into thinking it is serving its community with various “ministry” programs that do little, if anything, to draw unchurched people to Christ or to actually minister to the very real needs of its members, such as:
- A children’s ministry that ignores the impact of divorce, bullying, fatherlessness, parental addictions, poverty, parents in jail, abandonment and sexualization of children at very young ages. Instead, the children’s “ministry” is more likely to engage kids in edutainment activities, like digging gummy worms out of soil with their toes, while listening to adults act out a Bible story.
- A men’s ministry that ignores the real pain men face from parental abandonment in their youth, isolation, loneliness, confusion, stress, anger, and a sense of worthlessness. Through a monthly men’s breakfast and annual retreat, the church teaches men they aren’t doing enough for the church, giving enough, praying enough, serving their families enough, leading enough and reading enough of the Bible.
- A women’s ministry that makes women, especially mothers, feel inadequate for their inability to give themselves fully to their church, jobs, marriage, kids, children’s school, community, friends and aging parents. Through one- or two-hour ice cream socials and morning coffee gatherings, women aren’t taught how to emulate Christ or rely upon his strength, but rather how to more successfully balance their careers with family and better blend into the prevailing culture without offending others.
- Addiction recovery programs that hold nobody accountable, but tolerate an endless litany of excuses as to why people choose to remain in bondage to pornography, drugs, alcohol and other self-destructive behaviors.
I frequently write about problems within the church as I see them, while offering practical, Biblically-grounded truth in hopes that churches stop “playing church” and seek Christ-centered opportunities to have a real, practical and eternal impact on people in the community.
The world is at war and billions of people are in danger of eternal separation from God. The church should stop acting like it is entertaining a crowd of spectators during half-time at a sports game and actually work to carry out Christ’s final instruction — to go and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything Christ commanded.