Friday, March 22, 2013

THE CURSE OF THE NORTH AMERICAN CHURCH: Bleacher Christianity

Tell me something!  When did the church of North America start to become a gathering of spectators sitting in bleachers watching their favorite highly talented performers but on a show that would wow their socks off?  Tell me, when did going to church become an event one attend for an hour or two a week, on a special day, at a holy hour to watch consecrated hired men put on a religious show to astound their people?   What I'm describing here is what I call:


BLEACHER CHRISTIANITY!

In Bleacher Christianity people are recruited to attend church by promising them:

  1. Great music by either an amazing band or an astounding orchestra. 
  2. Fun, humorous and relevant messages that will capture and hold your attention.
  3. Warm and friendly people who will greet you and make you feel like part of the family.
  4. Fun filled Children's Ministry and action packed Youth Ministries
  5. All delivered in our brand new or recently remodeled church facility.
Now is there anything wrong with great music, well delivered sermons, friendly people, great ministries for youth and children or even nice facilities?  No! In and of themselves alone there is absolutely nothing wrong with them at all. But when those things become the hook to attract people to church then you'll get what you advertise.  Let me say it again. When you make those things: music, humorous sermons and nice facilities your hook for reaching people 

YOU'LL GET WHAT YOU ADVERTISE!

And here is what you are advertising! You are advertising for people to check out your music, sermon or facilities. And what kind of people check out these kinds of things? 

SPECTATORS!

What are spectators looking for? Yes, of course the most obvious thing that people would be looking for is what you advertised!  But more specifically they are looking for what you were promising and that was entertainment.  Spectators attend to be entertained.  Whether it's sports event, musically event or a movie people are attending to be entertained. That's the bottom line.  

Now here is something that I learned from a church planter a long time ago: Churches will keep the people they reach the same way they were able to reach them in the first place.  If you promised the people who come to your church great music, great sermons, great facilities and great ministries then you will be able to retain them by providing them great music, great sermons and great facilities! Sorta! Why do I say, "Sorta"?  Because it also has to continue to be the best music, the best sermon, the best facilities and the best ministries in town if people are going to continue to come!  If the church stops being the biggest and best spiritual show in town and another church starts to offer better music, better facilities and better ministries then the people you reached will jump ship and go over to the newest show in town.  

So what does a church do to keep up with reaching more and more people while at the same time maintaining those that they already have reached?  

EVERY FEW YEARS THEY HAVE TO REINVENT THEMSELVES IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN BEING THE BIGGEST AND BADDEST SPIRITUAL SHOW IN TOWN!

That means that churches have to build more facilities or remodel the existing ones to look contemporary; they have to get newer and more sophisticated audio/visual equipment; and they have to add new ministries that promise to meet the newest needs of society.  In other words the church has to find new ways to WOW their members and prospects alike.  

Pastors and staff alike are working harder and harder to answer the call of their congregations crying, "Give me more, give me more, give me more."  And what happens if the church stops giving them the more and the better?  The people leave and go to next newest and baddest spiritual show in town.  There's a Biblical word for this attitude:

CARNALITY

In other words it is worldly carnality wrapped up in a pseudo spiritual covering or it's sinful worldliness made to look spiritual.  And it in no way produces what Jesus commanded the church to produce right before he ascended into heaven!  His last command to the church before he left was to go make disciples.  Listen to me carefully for I tell you the truth. While Bleacher Christianity will produce a crowd it will not produce people who are fully devoted followers of Christ; it will not produce people who love Jesus and God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength; it will never produce people who are ready to stop watching the game to jump into the field to play the game.

We think we're successful because we count the number of butts in the seats but the real measure of success is how many butts are back in the streets shining the Light of Christ!  We think we're successful because of how many people pray a sinners prayer and even go as far as getting baptized but the real measure of success is how many of those people experience a life transformation that resembles Christ!  

But we can't blame anyone but ourselves! We are the ones who have created this monster!  We invited people to come check out our music, our sermons, our buildings and our ministries and we got what we advertised for! We got spectators who came to be entertained.  The problem is that we advertised the wrong thing!

THE PROBLEM IS THAT WE ADVERTISED THE WRONG THINGS!

Instead of promoting our music, our sermons, our buildings and our ministries we should be been advertising Jesus.

JESUS SHOULD HAVE BEEN WHAT WE WERE ADVERTISING.

Listen to what Philip was promoting when he found Nathaniel:

"Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.  
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. 
“Come and see,” said Philip." John 1:45,46 (NIV)

Yes Philip was promoting something but he wasn't promoting music, sermons, buildings or ministries.  No, Philip was promoting Jesus.  His invitation to Nathaniel was to "Come and See" Jesus!  In other words the invitation of the early church was always to come and experience the Power, Presence, Provision and Proclamation of Jesus the Messiah!  And what happened to people when they came to see Jesus?  They either loved Him or hated him but those that loved him were radically transformed as they began to follow him and his way of living.  Those that followed him were not spectators who were sitting on the bleachers watching a great show they were back in the world joining Christ as He went from town to town, finding the lost and saving those who were ready to be saved.  Those who followed Christ became the participants in the ministry. They were the players on the grid iron bringing the Kingdom of God into this world with their pain and sweat.  They were the ones receiving the beatings, the floggings, the imprisonment, and yes, even the death sentence. They are the ones who gave up all this life had to offer to follow Christ, to minister with Christ and to be obedient to Christ.

NOW THAT'S THE KIND OF CHRISTIANITY THAT 
NORTH AMERICA NEEDS TO EXPERIENCE!

Let's break the curse of the North American Church! Let's stop entertaining people and start challenging people! Challenge them to follow Jesus! And we they follow let's teach them to obey all that Christ has commanded and get them back in this world to shine the Light of Christ.

Ordinary Christian it's time to get out of the bleachers and back onto the game field.  You're not to be a spectator! You're intended to be a players.  

Go Play - Go Shine 
Go Be The Light of the World!


I personally invite you to join us at THE ORDINARY CHRISTIAN where we can empower you, encourage you and equip you to live a missional life for 
Christ and shine His light back into this dark world.


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