I’ve been attending church almost my entire life. Being a preacher’s kid will do that to you. Don’t get me wrong, I believe the local church has played, and will continue to play, a critical role in the advancement of the gospel. Still, I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the direction the modern Western Church seems to be heading. Maybe it’s me. Perhaps I’m just on a rant. But it seems the church (and I realize I’m painting with an incredibly broad stroke here) has fallen into a formulaic approach devoid of passion and urgency.
Our mission is to take the message of Jesus into all the world (Matthew 28:18-20), but we seem determined instead to preach a gospel of self-improvement and feel-good adherence to a script Jesus never embraced.
Let me give you a little background. I watch and listen to more sermons and read more books on Christianity than most. I’m constantly immersing myself in anything I can find in hopes of learning more about Christ and deepening my walk with Him. There are some amazing teachers and authors advancing the name of Jesus. I am so thankful to be blessed with an almost overwhelming number of resources from which I can learn, because I am keenly aware we have brothers and sisters around the world who would give anything for a simple scrap of a page of God’s Word.
With all the content I consume, I’ve noticed trends which were at first curious, even comical, but have since become increasingly disturbing. Almost every church I’ve attended follows the same rotation of sermon topics. Each year we’ve got to have the marriage series, the family series, and the giving series. Worse still, these days many smaller churches seem to simply be copying the message topics of their larger cousins rather than talking about what might be most relevant in their community.
My problem is, we almost never talk about the things Jesus talked about. Look at His parable of the sheep and the goats. He said we should be feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, caring for the sick, and visiting those in prison. When was the last time you heard a message on those topics?
How about the shepherd who left 99 sheep alone to go rescue a single lost lamb? We are far more likely to hear a message of becoming our best selves and forming a great Christian community, than we are to be encouraged to break away and go after a single soul who is desperate for help. We’ve lost sight of the mission of Christ. Jesus didn’t come to build local congregations but to invite as many as possible into His Kingdom.
I dare say the Western church has become fat and lazy. We’ve lost the urgency and passion to pursue a lost soul because it’s not flashy and doesn’t make headlines. We want to do big things for Jesus, when all He asks is we love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. A local community focused solely on loving the person next to them will have an immeasurably larger impact than a huge congregation gathering to socialize and check off the “I attended church this week” box. We need to get back to what Jesus told us to do, back on mission for Him. We need to be focused on making a difference to the lonely and hurting, and drawing others into His love. Nothing else matters.