Equipping Your Reimagine Journey
Why did Jesus come when He did? Theories abound, but the state of the Church was likely, at least in part, behind God’s timing. Religious practices and teachings had gotten far off course, fueled by impure motives and metrics – and leading to cynicism among non-believers and an improper understanding of God among believers. Jesus came to blow up those misconceptions and set the record straight – about who God is and what He expects of His followers. Jesus reserved His harshest words and greatest indignation for the religious establishment.
We live AD but “church as we know it” has largely reverted to BC principles. It was intended to operate much differently than it did before Christ, but on close (biblical) examination it appears we have partially repaired the veil Jesus tore and rebuilt the temple Jesus said would be knocked down.
Consider what Scripture says about issues with churches and religious leaders in Jesus’ day, who had become…
A “4 walls” mentality with people treated as “customers” to attract and retain rather than as the embodiment of “church” to disciple and deploy.
BC Church positioned as an institution formed an unintended wedge between God and man (both churchgoers and those on the outside looking in):
AD Jesus went out to where people were, bridging the gap formed by “religion” to demonstrate His love (e.g. healing and feeding) before telling them who He was:
Emphasis on budgets and giving to keep the institutional church machine running.
BC Significant dollars were required to operate the Old Testament church:
AD Flattened hierarchy frees up more giving to be directed toward fellow Christians inside and outside that church (e.g. the persecuted):
Not following the Lord’s commands to be compassionate and generous.
BC Religious leaders rarely gave to help the poor:
AD The critical importance of compassion was strongly reemphasized, with Jesus as the model (yet only around 1% of the average church’s budget today is invested back in the community – whereas the Church for 1900 years was the food bank and homeless shelter, and started most hospitals and schools):
Defining church around a place and pastors to build the institution rather than disciples.
BC Success was measured by the magnificence of facilities and the celebrity of religious leaders:
AD Clarification that believers are truly the definition and personification of “church” (however, nearly all Americans today associate church with a building and its “success” with size in terms of square footage, occupancy and budget):
Claiming ultimate authority and power, but rather than relying on the Holy Spirit being driven by human principles.
BC They did not recognize, possess or leverage the power of the Holy Spirit:
AD All followers of Jesus possess immense power through the Holy Spirit (however, few churches today emphasize the Holy Spirit, likely because He is too “spiritual” for non-believers who pastors are eager to attract and ensure feel “welcome” and “comfortable” in worship services):
Emphasizing the Church gathered versus the Church scattered to ensure organizational viability and job security.
BC Knowledge of God and His Word was largely trapped within the confines of buildings and the minds of religious leaders:
AD Wisdom shared directly with individual believers who can meet anywhere for prayer, worship and fellowship (however, pastors today do not prepare members to be evangelists, but simply ask them to invite their friends to the church building to let the “professionals” handle Gospel presentations):
Conducting an air war of words rather than a ground war of love and compassion to fight the culture war.
BC Religious leaders battled to maintain a controlling theocracy against competing influences:
AD Church focused on Jesus as King and winning people to Him through love and mercy (however, Christians and churches are known less today for what they’re for than what they’re against):
The answer to how today’s Church can look like the Church Jesus intended (AD) rather than the Church Jesus reviled (BC) lies in addressing those 7 issues, becoming:
Imagine the reversal of the current decline in growth, influence, impact and public perception that would occur if churches in America would adopt these 7 AD principles.
Do you agree that most churches in America today look and operate more like the “church” BC than AD?
AMEN! SEVEN TIME SEVENTY!
As a member of the laity, my observations include:
Control taking the place of leading;
Importance of being recognized;
Physical structures being of overriding concern;
More effort spent on programs and fund-raising supposedly to "reach out" than on actual outreach and giving.
Bricks and mortar edifices keep expanding either higher or wider. Perhaps, the Lord Sees need to repeat the BC lesson of Genesis11:1-9. Only this time, it is the voices of AD clergy that is being confounded so that what is trying to be built becomes impossible for men.
Over 80 views: only one comment.
This post clearly calls for reimagining Discipleship and Evangelism.
I’m beginning to wonder if Christian leaders really want to “reimaginative.”