Starting with my last blog, I am intending to do a short series on issues with church. The last blog was about churches not seeing or being honest about what they are really about in practice. This blog is about one of these issues. One problem most churches fall into is being almost entirely self-focused. Churches say that they are focused on God and his plans, but too often that’s not really a primary focus at all. Most of what churches do have to do with themselves, keeping themselves going. If you look at the money spent and what the staff spends their time on, you’ll find that the large part of the resources are spent are running programs, keeping the building up, etc. Now all this is done because people think that by doing these things they are helping out God. However I want to suggest that many of these things are actually not very effective in bringing people closer to God.
What I’m saying may be difficult to understand, so I want to give an example that I hope will help to clarify. Several months ago I visited a church in the area. During the service, I lost track of the number of times that “our church” or the church’s name were said. They talked all about getting people to their church, and how much they thought everyone should like their church. In contrast, I couldn’t remember them talking about Jesus at all. I think the pastor read a scripture or two during the course of the sermon, but that was about all. Most of the message I heard was about how the church had spent too much money on it’s most recent building project, and now needed people to give more in order for them to make their mortgage payments.
The church is Christ’s body, and therefore ought to be focused on him, and following his direction. I certainly didn’t sense this at all in the church I visited. It seemed that the church had lost Christ in itself. We’re so busy with programs and services and pastors and staff and buildings, that Jesus has gotten lost in the mix. It’s not about relationships—with each other and with Christ; it’s about getting people into services and to attend more bible studies, groups, and other programs.
So is the is church just about services? Is God interested in seeing big church buildings across the world? Is He thankful for all our programs? Now God may work through these things, but that doesn’t make them “sacred”. God works through many things outside of the church too. I believe that too often God works despite us, our churches and programs, etc. If we would take our focus off ourselves and all we’re trying to do for God, we could be exponentially more effective by focusing on and following Christ’s lead. After all, Jesus knows what he’s doing, doesn’t He?