I have been asked what challenges the church faces at the present time. This is a difficult question to answer without passion so I gave this some time before I posted it.
I would say that churches, for the most part, are reflections of a fearful, self righteous and consumerist culture. They are tools for political and social ideologies that are opposed to the Gospel. This has occurred because we have forgotten or ignored the Gospel and have translated its message to suit ourselves rather than allowing it to challenge us.
I would say that churches are business ventures consumed with the bottom line. They view people as means to an end. They are obsessed with survival, money and attendance. Discipleship is not in their vocabulary in any meaningful sense. They give very little real thought to God or the challenge of the Christ. They have lost their souls.
I would say that we a broken nearly beyond repair. I think Jesus is looking for people who are open to him and He will find them whether they are in what we call the church or in the world.
We are wholly owned subsidiaries of a political and religious ideology which is conservative in the worst sense of the word. We are not interested in transformation but in the preservation of the status quo. We have lost our passion of people in our lust for power and prestige.
We have made the Gospel of God a statement about OUR distinctiveness and OUR values and in doing this we have prostituted the Gospel to serve our interests.
What is the way out of the downward spiral? We must again submit ourselves to the discipline of the Word of God. We must approach it with a humility which recognizes our sinfulness and complicity in brokenness of the world and the church. We must repent and recognize that the Gospel is about God; what God has done, what God is doing, what God wants, what God is calling us to become. It is never about us or our survival or glorification. It is about God's glory and His agenda.
Until we reject our mercenary use of God and his Church we will continue to be largely ineffective and irrelevant and we will continue to wander through the wasteland of our culture as a false oasis. We will continue to be ineffective. We will continue to have an identity crisis.
We must become a compassionate society rather than a competitive one. We must become a giving culture rather than a consuming culture. We must be taken out of ourselves so we can see the need of those around us. Only then can we navigate with clear vision.
And we must understand that the Church is not in danger of failing or disappearing. We are in danger of failing and have virtually disappeared. God can and will raise a new Church. He may even be in the process of doing so as we speak. Let's join him. Let's repent. Let's get on our knees.