Throughout this blog I have mentioned time and again how I have observed a huge departure in Evangelicalism from the Gospel of Grace. I do not say this as an outsider, I say this as one involved in some form of ministry in “church” for a long time. And I have felt the sting and pain of rejection from people who claim to love Jesus. My criticisms are not meant to cast dispersion on the church, but to call people into freedom,grace and the unconditional love of God found in the Gospel so that they can bring the Kingdom of God into their churches and denominations.
Having said that, one might ask “according to you what should the evangelical church in America today look like?”
Here is my humble vision…
First, remove or resist the temptation to put an American flag in the sanctuary, in Sunday School rooms, or even on a flagpole in front of the building. Stop preaching patriotism as the twin sister of the Christian faith. We are not American Christians, and while feeling patriotic toward ones country is good, it does not belong in the church. We are children of the King of Heaven and it is to Him and to the spread of His Kingdom that we pledge allegience. Keeping with this same thought, remove from hymnals songs that reference America, thus insinuating that God has a special place in His heart for “America the Beautiful”. And finally, do not give over the pulpit to ANY politician for any reason. Do not distribute voter guides in the church, and do not promote a political party or politician from the pulpit.
Next, stop picketing gay pride parades, abortion clinics, porn shops and stop burning Korans. Stop boycotts of Disney, Home Depot, and other organizations that choose to support the civil rights of a minority group. In fact stop picketing and boycotting all together. All they do is cause people to get a false idea of what the Christian faith is about.
Stop hating people in the LGBT community and pretending to love them by saying that you are only speaking the truth in love. You are lying. In the same vein, stop saying love the sinner hate, hate the sin. I have met very, very few Christians adhering to that phrase befriending someone gay and loving them unconditionally. Hateful rhetoric does not promote love. And if you are a pastor who believes that being gay is a sin, and you just have to preach it from your pulpit, then you had better preach just as passionately about obesity(gluttony), prayer groups (gossip factories), defenders of the “truth” (legalists) and a multitude of other acceptable sins.
Next seek to have Christian television shut down. if there is one vehicle that has done great damage to the Gospel, it is this. Most of it promotes a things contradictory to Scripture. We cannot speak good things into our lives, we cannot think only positive thoughts and have great health. We cannot give money to a wolf in sheep’s clothing and get a blessing or a miracle. Many a person has walked away from God because they did not receive what these “leaders” of the faith had promised.
So what is left? Unconditional love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, honesty, openness.
Imagine with me for a moment walking into a place were the people are honest about themselves to themselves and to others. A place where people do not wear masks and pretend to be something that they are not. Where the needs of others come before our wants or comfort. A place where we welcome everyone and love them unconditionally. A place that reaches out the surrounding community and across the world meeting physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of people without the agenda of winning souls (which is the job of the Holy Spirit), but the agenda of bringing to them a little glimpe of Kingdom of God which is peace, justice, and love.
Perhaps we can do more than imagine, maybe we can rise up and see it take place in our lifetime.
That is my prayer
19 thoughts on “How To Create A Christian Church”
Like, like, like!!! Great post. 🙂
Frustratingly, the churches that I find espousing this belief of “unconditional love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, honesty, openness” are filled with people deeply hurt by and justifiably suspicious of Christians.
They are filled with those people…and they have reason to be suspicious of Christians, because many Christians give them reason to be.
There should be no promoting of political candidates from the pulpit but we should be preaching about “politically sensitive” social issues like diversity, poverty, inequality, justice, hunger, healthcare, moral budgets, etc. The plight of the poor and marginalized was a constant concern of Jesus, and it should be of His followers.
Your list of other sins to preach about–if you want to preach about “slivers”–didn’t include the “sin” of divorce. There’s a lot more said about divorce in the bible than homosexuality. The reason we know longer hear sermons against divorce is because too many of our friends are divorced. It will eventually be the same with homosexuality.
I absolutely agree with the social issues that should be preached.But sadly, they take a back sit to the “hot button” issues.
I do not think that acceptance of gay Christians is coming any time soon. The difference between divorce as “acceptable” has to do with “normal” heterosexual people are getting them. Most Christians do not see people from the LGBT community as “normal”.
But Jesus says divorce is not a part of God’s concept of marriage, yet we have accepted it as a “normal” part of our society. If divorce is no longer an ostracizeable offense to the institution of marriage then why is gay marriage? The real issue is not which is normal heterosexual or homosexual, it is what is sin and how we relate to those who do not agree with our definition. Again, when we have as many gay friends as we have divorced friends we will see them through the same eyes.
I wish I could find a church like yours……I have sought it for a long time.
I hold out hope for the church. I am sorry to say that they are few and far between. Maybe I should start one 🙂
peace to you.
To mashup a quote from Gandhi, since its so hard to find such a place we should be the Church we all want to see in the world. And isn’t that what we are doing here online? Forming a community of believers, breaking away from a doctrine designed by humanity and focusing on the divine principle of love?
Thank you for your comment…and I agree this is one place that this community is forming. The issue that is so passionate with me is that people outside of the church only see things that have no resemblence to what Jesus had in mind….we need to be that voice in the world and stand up to the misrepresentations.
Peace to you.
creating a Christian church……perhaps we need to be like Christ. I know this is semantics but when we create a Christian church, we get what we have already–a bunch of different groups of people creating a community which is fashioned after their own likes and dislikes, dogmas, traditions. Even if any of us were to start a church, it would start with great intentions, lots of energy, doing the right thing for a while, and then…..fall into the same trap all churches have fallen into–“we’ve never done that before,” “these are the bare essential beliefs we hold to…”
Being like Christ requires the Holy Spirit, can be done in any congregation and anywhere and will be controversial. Christ was rejected by the religious–and each church has the religious, the spiritual, the naive, the unsaved in it. When we are trying to be as Christ like as possible, it will convict those who are simply trying to be good, religious, or have made Christ over in their own image. It will challenge our love of tradition and dogma over love of others. It will challenge the idols we have created which bring us comfort.
And so, yes I agree with your description of a Christian church but that first requires Christians being Christ like…
It seems that when people gather, whether in a building, in a home etc, that eventually a leader will have to emerge, and then elders, and then tasks will have to be assigned and an order of service established. Principals to keep the order will have to established and then the joy of just being together will be gone, because we HAVE to have structure and an agenda and something to do…church is where I go to die for 2 hours every Sunday…when I get out I can live again. It’s sad. Unfortunately, and I fit into this category, I used church as the instrumemt to please God, to work for God, to influence others for the good of the kingdom and feeling ok with the church, the building and it’s people on Sunday with being my conduit to what living as a believer was. As it turns out I didn’t know squat about what having a relationship with my Father could be because I didn’t know him. I know alot about the song and dance, but that’s all it is. Meeting religious expectation that the controlling evangelical church sets out for you… A church that looks to plug it’s members into doing stuff is suspect to me…the whole thing is. All of this and I’m not really sure what the church should look like or how it should function. I agree with everything you have said Mark, but it’s a pipe dream…I’m rambling…i think if you are not satisfied with your church, walk away for 6 months and a) see if you miss it, b) ask God to guide your own worship and service…see what happens. I’m thinking i won’t be disappointed…not a single bit.
It may be a pipe dream Jason, but I think that it is what the Father pictures the church being. But we are all so flawed that we have f***ed it up again and again. And because we have, many people have been hurt, or alienated from God. But I still hold out hope that there is enough people within communities around this country that are willing take a risk and stand against the unchristian ideology permeating the Evangelical church. This is a driving passion with me. Grace and unconditional love in Jesus is so transforming, yet it is so overshadowed by our need to be right, and moral in the eyes of the world.
I feel your pain….i wish that i could help more.
I think you said it well when you said we use church to please God. The truth is the Church is suppose to be used by God to nurture God’s people and minister to the world.
I think walking away from the church for 6 months and worshipping on your own is not wise advice. The truth is the community of believers are to act like iron sharpening iron–which creates friction, which means sometimes its about me being sharpened, and sometimes it means its not about me and I am suppose to be sharpening others. The community of believers should function in helping others discern God’s call. Scripturally we are told not to keep from meeting with other believers–not that that has to take place in a formal meeting place.
I don’t think mark’s view is a pipe dream. It is what the Church is suppose to be striving towards. We cannot expect the church to be any more perfect than we expect ourselves. And if we who are the light of the world and salt of the earth keep leaving churches and staying home or starting new churches, we leave communities of believers in the dark and without flavor. And then complain how dead they are. We are not living out God’s call on our lives. I am finding Christianity to be a lot harder, a lot more inconvenient than what I like. I find it to be a lot less about me and much more about Christ’s work in the world around me.
Exactly 🙂 You get it and I’m so glad I get it too. and everyone else that get’s what Grace is. how to receive it and extend it to others. It really must be…wake up time 🙂
I appreciate your comments and support. Thank you for reading. Peace, Mark Lee
Pastor: “Love all, as long as it is a christian and not muslims, jews, hindus, gays, pro-choicers, promiscous, feminists, scientists and fags.”
What went wrong?
What went wrong Alejandro was the the message of the Gospel of Jesus was hijacked by fundamentalists that feel that they hold all truth and that love is not unconditional unless you follow their rules and regulations. Jesus won people over because He loved them, many in church seem to think forcing morality on others is the most loving thing you can do for them.
Thanks for reading and for your great comments.