In our previous post, Remaking “Church”, I refuted this movement as being wrong. But what about when your “church” doesn’t work? What do you do? In this post I will look at some tips on dealing with a disfunctioning church.
Church works, when done God’s way.
The first thing that you have to recognize is that “church” as God defines it works. It has the power and authority of God behind, so if it “didn’t work”, then God would make it work divinely with his omnipotent power. But it does work. It works because God has used his divine and endless wisdom in designing it, and therefore it works because God is God. When we believe in God’s wisdom, and we accept it whether we understand it or not, then things can be set in order. Note that “order” means structured correctly. The idea of remaking the church has as its premise that either God has not given us any definite structure, or that structure is non-functioning and can be replaced with something else. These concepts strike at the authority of God, and at the perfectness of God. Let me emphasize this point again. Church works when done GOD’S WAY. Why churches have problems today is because they are not “doing church” according to Scripture. This is at the heart of church failures. Let me hasten to add that being “old fashioned” is not a failure. Many people insist that their religion and their church must conform to their thinking, and they reject anything except the Burger King philosophy, “Have it your way”. If they cannot get things “their way”, then they reject it as a failure. This is invalid. Salvation is only by God’s terms, and we do not define how or what or why, or anything else in salvation nor our Christian life. In true Christianity, we must submit, not invent. We must submit to what God has already said (in eternity past, so novelty is not going to get that). Trying to make God’s word and work into a “new, modern thing” isn’t going to work, because God has no interest in us (nor his work) being a modern novelty. Fashions and fads are not biblical. The biblical attitude is to be like the Bible says, and this means conforming to the old standards, not manufacturing new standards. The old methods worked and still work, and those are the things that we need to focus on. God’s methods and doctrines are not up for debate. To give in on a single minor thing that God has clearly declared is to misunderstand the authority of God, and to be confused on our situation before God. We are not partners with God in the design and method creation of His work, but rather we are under His instructions, and have to accept and do what He has commanded. God is God, and we are not gods. God by divine right has the authority and right to command because He created. We are creatures, his creatures, and we have to obey. Confusion on our position and relationship with God has caused this modern movement to gain strength over the years.
Understanding and accepting God’s purpose for the Church.
I think the key problem in most people’s minds is that they don’t have a clue about what God has said about “church”. The church is God’s redeemed people. That much that got, and they want to include themselves in that group of people “going to heaven” and “avoiding hell”. “Yes, I am in there.” But beyond that they don’t know or believe anything. Their basis for being included in that group is faulty, because they are not born again, they are just “religious” (if that is what I have to do to be included in the good group). The purpose that God has for the redeemed is that they become part of God and his kingdom, working the work of God. This (being a part of God and his kingdom) is only possible if they morally take the character and purposes of God. Part of this, an essential and critically important part of this, is that they exist for the purpose of accomplishing the purposes of God as seen in the work of God. Evangelism and edifying the saved in the environment of a local church, where loving Christians “do their thing”, is the foundation of understanding God’s definition of “church”. So evangelism is the heart beat of the church. Evangelism is telling the unsaved (wherever they may be, seeking them out for this purpose) that they are under the condemnation of God, and need to repent, and believe/accept in Jesus to be their personal Savior. Evangelism is a wise solution of God for what ails the church. When people are serious about evangelism, then they seek, and they are preoccupied with making their church a place that receives sinners, to direct them to Christ. Courtesy, love, concern, humbleness, seeking and serving others instead of one’s self all become the elements soul-winners seek to instill in their church if they want to fulfill the Great Commission. The primary vehicle of people getting saved and walking in the way of Christ is because they met and grew to love real Christians doing just that. The power and pull of personal example cannot be underestimated.
Remedying what ails people
One of the key aspects of building and restoring the church to what it should be is to function in God’s scheme of things as He works in people’s lives. This means that we serve God by serving people. Yes, we can wait on tables at a social and serve people, but that is not so much a great need. What is a great need is that people have their problems resolved. This is done in various ways, but all of these ways we (the redeemed) play a part in them. The first element here is to be used by God. When we are all tied up in our own lives, then we cannot be used by God. We must deny self, and seek to serve like our Lord. When we offer ourselves to God, there are many people out there with problems, hurting, and wanting help. When we seek to resolve their conflicts with God’s principles, and spiritually “hold their hands through their suffering and tribulation” by praying with them over their problems and being concerned for them, and showing them this sincere love from our hearts, we act as a representative of God to them. The second element is that we need to direct them to Christ and God’s Word. When we resolve problems in our own life via God’s Word and power, and we share our lives with them, then we forge a bond that will bring them to the feet of Christ. We must communicate to them the wisdom of God, and the excellent “resolving power” of God’s Word to “fix what is wrong with your life”. A mark of the disciples of Christ is that they love one another. As God is love, so do their Savior’s love saturate their life, and so is this love seen in their relationships with others. The truth of the matter is that we, as the redeemed of God, are not really saved if we do not practice love. See Tract CH15 Congregating Because we Love Also see for reference The Five Most Important Church Growth Principles