How can you tell if your church is fulfilling its biblical purpose?
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
The more I think about the condition of our churches today, the more convinced I am that the problem lies in our view of what “church” is supposed to be and what Christianity is all about. We have settled for something far short of Christ’s goal for us in both areas. We seem to think that if we go to church, pray, spend time in the Word, and engage in regular Bible studies, we will have fulfilled our responsibilities, done our job, and earned the admiration of our Lord. We may even attain to the self-righteous position of thinking that if everyone did as much as I do, things would be different. But would they? I have come to believe that if every member in our churches regularly followed these practices, things would be just as they are now. Nothing would change. Nothing would change because all these things are not the end. They are a means to the end. They are tools to be used.
Our problem is that we have come to believe that knowledge is the key to our success as Christians. We seem to believe that our knowledge will somehow permeate our souls and turn us into better believers. Knowledge, of course is essential, but it’s only the beginning. Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of Christ. Faith must be based on knowledge, but for it to develop into something usable by our Lord, something else must take place- something that we have lost sight of in too many of our churches.
AS I SEE IT
Our superficial culture has rubbed off on us. We want to look good, but we don’t really want to change. We are willing to go through the motions so we can be accepted as part of the group, but we don’t want to spend the time it takes to really change, and change is what it’s all about. Christ came to transform us, not to educate us. Specifically, we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, not simply filling them with more information.
We have grown satisfied with reading our Bibles and doing our Bible studies, but what about taking it to the next step? What about applying what we’ve learned in concrete ways? What about turning concepts into practice? For the most part, our problem is not lack of knowledge. It’s the lack of application of what we’ve learned. Christ wants to transform us, but we must be willing to spend whatever time it takes to transfer knowledge into action. We must be willing to work through “concepts” to see how they should change us. Reaching the end of a Bible study is not the time to congratulate ourselves, take a deep breath, and see what’s next. That is when we should make sure that what we have learned is starting to transform us.
If we fail to “make application” when we’ve learned something, we’ll never be transformed. While it’s true that we become a new creation at the moment of our new birth, we must be transformed if we are to reflect that new status, and transformation is a process-a painful but rewarding process. It we stop at the information stage, we’re like a football team that has practiced for an entire season but has never actually taken the field and played a game.
If our churches are to have the impact on the culture as they are supposed to, their members must be retrained to reach higher. They (we) must stop being content with knowledge. We must understand that the practice of our Christianity is more important than our instruction, and that in the Kingdom of God, real change is the true measure of success.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
When you’ve seen one shopping Center you’ve seen a mall.