My blogging buddy Sandra Conner commented on my Seeker Friendly Churches post.
She is concerned, as I am, about the deterioration of the modern church. We are both disturbed by the marketing efforts some churches have adopted so they can draw people together for glitzy, culture-pleasing stadium-style church services. Her comment was so moving to me I told her I wanted to share her thoughts with my readers. So, I am including here reply here today in its entirety. Enjoy.
Sandra is an author, a newspaper reporter, a teacher, a musician, and an ordained minister. I am also learning to paint with water colors and acrylics. To find out more about Sandra and to read her blog, follow this link.
Steven, I’m so grateful that you have posted this series. I have been in the trenches, fighting this same battle in my area of the country — and with what little influence I have — for several years now. It is truly frightening to me to see what is happening. I guess it hit home for me even more soundly about 11 years ago when a church I helped to found — a church that had been a birthplace and training ground for hundreds and hundreds of sold-out, on-fire, Holy Ghost anointed, solid-Word-teaching servants of Christ — a church known throughout the area as a place people KNEW they could go to experience a soul-searching, no-nonsense, face-to-face encounter with God — threw out that Gospel and adopted Willow-Creek’s formulas in place of it. I had been gone from this area for about 15 years, and it was during that time that the major changes took place.
Obviously, there were a great many strong, Christ-centered believers who felt they had no choice but to leave the church and try to find some place where they could function in their service for the Lord in Scripturally sound ways again. Unfortunately, they discovered — as I have — that a place like that is almost non-existent right now.
To say I’m praying and crying out to the Lord for merciful intervention is such an understatement. I feel such desperation over the situation — and over all the lives that are being effected negatively. I see hundred of people coming into these churches — sitting at the coffee bars, sitting around tables in what are called “Bible Classes,” but which are actually round-table discussions of a topic, mostly by people who are well meaning, but still ignorant themselves in the things of the Word and who need to be TAUGHT — not encouraged to rally behind their own ideas.
One of the most significant physical aspects of most of these churches is the fact that they turn out the lights in order to engage in what they call “worship.” What they are actually doing is engaging in the theatrical production taking place on the stage under the spotlights. The Word of God is SO VERY CLEAR that we are to come into the “light” and avoid the dark places — in fact the Word says that people seek the darkness when they want to hide. I think if these church leaders were thinking scripturally at all, that one aspect should be a danger flag for them. I talked with one pastor the other day for about an hour, and that’s one of the points I made. Unknown to me, several people who lead praise and worship in one of his two Sunday morning services had been trying to push him to let them turn out the lights — “because that’s the way it’s done now.” He sat and thought a moment after I had spoken and said, “Well, at least what you’re telling me is based on the Word of God, whereas what they are telling me is based only on what’s ‘popular’ right now.” Hopefully, he will give it more serious thought before he grants them permission.
I see these people who pack these churches “playing the games” of Christianity, having fun, feeling no compulsion to change anything about the rest of their lives or to avoid compromise with the world in any way. And (having eyes that are well-experienced after 40 years in ministry) I see that they are skating on such thin ice that it is frightening. Were they to be faced with a great spiritual battle of any kind right now, they would have no Word to stand on, no Sword to fight with, and no active Faith with which to overcome. In short, they are “like sheep without a shepherd” because the Church has cast aside the commission and thrown off the anointing of Jesus Christ.