Saturday, June 21, 2014

The End Of The Church As We Know It by Marc Lawson

      I am reading an excellent book, The End of the Church as We Know It, by Marc Lawson.  It came highly recommended and so far I have not been disappointed.  I believe there needs to be a fundamental change in the way most of us 'do church' in order for Christianity to be the world-changing vehicle it was meant to be.  Marc Lawson does a great job explaining why and how that can happen.

Here is an excerpt from p. 41:

We now have millions of so-called "believers" who don't believe the gospel of the Kingdom because many of them have never really heard it.  Instead, they hear a gospel spawned in one of the many results-oriented, seeker-friendly churches that created this "harvest."  These millions of converts have lifestyles that reveal little or no commitment to the gospel of the Kingdom and reflect little desire to grow and mature beyond their minimal commitment to "Churchianity."

This "other brand" of Jesus is identified by these earmarks:
--It is based on bringing the gospel to "seekers" in an inoffensive and understandable way so everything is focused on those who visit and are seeking;
--The message is brought in "bite-sized bits of Jesus" so it doesn't shock or overwhelm the seeker;
--Since the motive is to get people who are seeking to "find," there is an overemphasis on evangelism and it primarily focuses on ministering to the uninitiated and immature;
--The short messages are hip and to the point with drama and the arts used to communicate a story or message.  Presentations are aimed at seekers or baby Christians.  (I personally feel the use of these many creative ways of presenting the gospel is a positive aspect.)

All of this emphasis on the seeker instead of God leaves the seekers with the mind-set:
--Because Christ was shown to me in such a convenient form, Christ is apparently most concerned with my convenience and meeting my needs.
--Because I came to Christ as I am and I've heard that the gospel is free (which it is) I therefore need to do nothing to be included or involved in the Church.  Because the gospel costs me nothing, His Kingdom apparently requires nothing of me.
--Since God has been served up to me in a way I can "handle," my God will therefore never force me to think outside of my comfort zone or box.
--Since the only Kingdom I will see is after I die, my life here is mainly taken up with waiting for the end, living the best I can, and asking God to bless me.
--Since all this church stuff is so palatable, easy, and understandable to me, I need little or no supernatural revelation to comprehend God.
--The church exists for me.

The following are the obvious problems with this type of defective gospel:
--While Jesus loves us all and is not one to show favoritism, He is little concerned with catering to our convenience or insuring we are comfortable with our arrangements.  The Lord requires us first to believe--not fully understand or even feel comfortable with it.  Without faith it is impossible to please Him.  God's ways are inscrutable and beyond understanding.
--We must actually believe in the supernatural, mysterious aspects of the gospel and relationship with Christ; otherwise the gospel is just a moral lifestyle.
--The gosel is free but it cost God His Son and will cost you all of your natural life in exchange for His.  Receiving Christ is not like trying a new flavor of the month or turning over a new leaf.  Instead, it is a serious life-altering covenant.  Is is injurious to promise these seekers that they can just "try Jesus."  We don't try Him on for size.  We have to learn to die for Him.
--A hungering, seeking, knocking heart desirous to find God will find Him.  God is looking fior diligent seekers, not casual inquiriers.  Unless the Lord reveals Himself, going to a cool Bible study won't necessarily make any difference.

      As you can see, this book is going to ruffle some feathers!  I'm eager to find time to continue reading.  It resonates with my spirit.  I truly want to be part of a church that believes the whole Bible, including that all the gifts are needed today just as they were when Jesus walked the earth.  Don't you?

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