The Modern Pilgrim's Journey

When Church Folk Become More Dangerous to the Gospel Than the Kingdom of Darkness


The Modern Pilgrim # 25- Pilgrim catches sight of a magnificent building just as the Good Shepherd leads the flock out of the desert and prepares them to climb a mountain. When she discovers it’s a church, she assumes the Good Shepherd will surely lead them right to it. When he ignores the building and begins to climb, Pilgrim, tired from the desert, takes off on her own to investigate.

When you think of the word “church,” what happens in your mind and heart? Positive or negative thoughts and feelings? Maybe a mixture? For some of us, church services in a building are still on COVID-hold. Others who are meeting in their buildings are separated by roped off seating areas for “social distancing.” Children’s ministries are on hold along with many other normal church ministry departments. The scent of hand sanitizer overpowers all others inside the worship centers that do have people in them.

In much of America and other countries still, “going to church,” doesn’t look like anything it used to before the virus shutdowns. I wonder if that might be a positive, from God’s perspective? If we are brutally honest with ourselves, many believers are much better at doing church than being the church. If this is not true, then why do most churches log much higher numbers in worship attendance than on their volunteer lists?

Folks, God allowed our churches to be shut down. Hard. Going forward, if we simply try to return everything within our local bodies to our previous “normal,” we are going to miss the new thing God is doing. My sense is that it’s huge and will not look like previous moves of God except for the common denominator of repentant sinners in huge waves.  So, I’m going to provoke you a bit and suggest that sometimes the ways we’ve “done church,” in the past are more dangerous to the gospel message than the kingdom of darkness.

My hope is that I will agitate you enough to think about your own church in a fresh way, I also hope you will take an honest look at yourself, as I am, and the past investments you’ve made for the cause of Christ. I am certain that The Church, the body of Christ, is standing upon a God-ordained crossroad. Those who choose their next path wisely are going to be resourced in ways they could not previously imagine, I believe. Others who don’t will live out the tragedy Jesus talks about in the parable of the ten virgins. (Matthew 25) They will move on “doing church,” but not necessarily being the true church.

So, here’s my list of ways churches can potentially damage the message of good news instead of carrying its light into the darkness. During the rest of the month, I would love to discuss a couple of these at greater length. For now, I hope this will get your inner wheel turning more in tune to the Holy Spirit.

 A local church can be dangerous to the gospel when:

  • The great majority of its resources and ministries are aimed at people already inside the church walls.
  • Pastors function more like CEO’s instead of servant leaders and shepherds.
  • Lost people, fresh from the streets of sin, are a novelty in the worship service, and are treated politely but not welcomed warmly.
  • People under 30 are disinterested in what happens on a Sunday morning and only come out of duty or because parents insist.
  • Members are not in authentic relationships with lost people.
  • Programs and ministries are funded and staffed simply because they always have been, not because they align with God’s current vision for that church.
  • Members are not authentic and genuine each other in small group settings where there is accountability and grace for sin problems.

What is God saying to the body of Christ right now, in this moment of history? Are we listening? Are we ready to obey?

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