God, Please Help These Church People

“You did run well: who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?”
Galatians 5:7

Why are so many religious institutions clueless in their biblical mission? I guess this is a question most politically correct people will avoid. We won’t be politically correct in this column. George Barna, a leading expert in Christian trend analysis, argues that churches are committing billions to religious outreach programs without much success, and confesses this church mentality must change. When analyzing the state of most churches in general, several questions need to be asked. Let’s start at the top of the organizational pyramid. Are leaders guiding their congregations correctly? I have sat in my share of church meetings and seen heated discussions. All families have some disagreements, but fighting takes the focus off the Christian mission. Some church members will claim that their church is loving and has no disagreements at all. You know your church; however, you may have been omitted in your church “fight” meeting. Many leaders don’t want followers’ input because their followers are not as important as them. (Of course, no leader will admit that.)

Let’s expound. Leaders can’t ignore cultural influences. Although some surveys portray a holy America (95% believe in God), these are hostile times for Christian values. Yes, there is growing religiousness; however, people are searching for God on their own terms. Barna again argues that a new spiritual revolution is gaining momentum. Local churches are on the way out. By 2025, only 1/3 of the current population will be members of a local church. Likewise, in black churches, there’s a steady decline (5.6%) in church attendance for 18- to 35-year-olds, from 1995 to 2000. In spite of this situation, most people espouse some spirituality in their lives. Strangely enough, Pascarella, author of Christ Centered Leadership, explains that the moral decline has also prompted people to view religion as the only way out. Some leaders advocate combining the best of secular culture with religious traditions. However, religion is not like mixing ice cream. Does it make sense to do this?

Leaders shouldn’t hide from their churches’ shortcomings. Some people suggest that churches need to update their thinking. However, Richards & Hoeldtke, authors of Church Leadership, argue that you just can’t apply institutional leadership to the Christian body. The church is a living organism. Here are Barna’s suggestions for church improvements:

(a) teach an uncompromising truth (I Tim. 4:1, 5)
(b) continue intercessory prayers for leaders (I Tim 2:1-2)
(c) be faithful (I Tim. 1:19)
(d) prepare for warfare (I Tim. 1:18).

Therefore, leaders should carefully review their purpose against their proven results. Are your programs working to reach out to others? If not, organizations need to rethink their strategy. Churches can utilize a plain glass approach such as the Fruit of the Spirit to reach this lost culture (offered in Galatians 5:22-23). Churches should focus on their first Love and make a difference in every community. Start today!

References:

Barna, G. (2000). Growing True Disciple. Ventura, CA: Issachar Resources.
Cell Church Solution (2005). Book Review on Revolution. Received from http://cellchurchsolutions.com/articles/bookReviews/BarnaRevolution.htm.

New King James Bible

Pascarella, P. (1999). Christ Centered Leadership. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing.
Richards, L. & Hoeldtke, C. (1980). Church Leadership: Following the Example of Jesus Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library.

Morris, C. (1983). The Christian Leader. Printed in the United States: PhilBEST

Sanders, J. (2005). Spiritual Leadership. Chicago, IL: Moody Press

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green

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