I love the church. I have given my life to the church. I believe in the church because I believe the King reigns over everything. There is a lot to be praised and celebrated when it comes to the church. There is another side though. We have bought some lies. These lies are hurting us. Crippling us. If the church is going to become the image of God in the world, there are lies we must drop. Here are 8 lies in church culture today that I believe are crippling us.
1.) Some sins are worse than others.
This is plaguing our church culture. Here’s why. It creates only two types of people. Group one: those that have not committed the “bad” sins. They have avoided the worst of the worst, so they tend to judge those that have not. Group two: those that have committed the “bad” sins. They are not stupid. They know once their virginity is gone, or they rape or murder somebody, God is really mad at them. The stares from group one tend be more direct and more apparent. Eventually, most in group two come to the realization they are just not good enough. Most in group one agree.
Some sins carry with them greater consequences…absolutely. Murder somebody…you get jail time. Gossip about your room mate…nothing. Both are sins. One has greater consequences. But this idea that avoiding a particular group of sins makes you more awesome than the group that has not is utterly ridiculous. Roman 3:23 has already settled it. We are all sinners. And in God’s eyes, there is only one group…sinners. That’s all of us.
It is time for the church to stop ranking sins. The cross is for every person. Let’s treat people this way.
2.) God does not expect that much from me.
You are right. God would only expect you to do what He has done. Wait…God sent His son to the cross to be murdered. For me? That’s crazy. So, tell me again why you think God does not expect much from you? God asks us to give our lives to Him (Romans 12:1-2). God asks us to kill our selfish desires. All of them. He asks us to live counter-culturally. Risk our lives, if necessary. Is that too much to ask? You decide.
3.) If you are a good communicator, you will be a good preacher or pastor.
What a terrible lie the church has given to so many young men. I fear it has created the circus show we have in many churches today. Preachers that are phenomenal communicators, but awful examples of Jesus. They are dishonest. They are in love with money. They are in love with fame. They are in love with everything except Jesus. Listen, being a great communicator does not make you a great preacher/pastor..its makes you a great communicator. A great preacher’s most important quality is his integrity.
So, when our young people step up to the pulpit or deliver a devotional thought at camp, let’s encourage them. Build them up. Give them more opportunities to lead and speak. But let’s stop anointing them as preachers because they do not stutter during a 10-minute devotional. We might just be feeding a beast that is devouring many of our churches.
4.) God is not ok with doubt and anger.
This would be a great idea if not for most of Psalms. I know why the mindset is present. It is disrespectful to yell at our earthly father and doubt his ways, so it must be the same (and more so) with God. Not terrible logic, but I direct you back to Psalms. Listen, God is all powerful. His love for you is so deep He sent His son to give you life. I think God can handle some doubt and anger. He knows this life is hard. He knows we are limited.
If you are reading this and have doubts about God, welcome to the club. I will pull you up a seat. Sometimes I struggle with things like a God who is everywhere at one time, three different Gods (but one God), and eternity. Doubt is an opportunity to draw near to God, not run from Him.
5.) God’s love for me is determined by my behavior.
The problem here…we think too highly of ourselves. If God’s love for you (or me) was determined by your behavior, He would be a crazy lunatic. He would also not have anybody to love. Here’s the deal. I suck at living up to God’s standard. Even on my most awesome day, I still end up light years short of God’s standard. Don’t freak out. God know this.
God loves you for one reason…his love is that deep (John 3:16). It’s not about you. Not at all. You are a child of God for one reason…Jesus. You can’t earn God’s love. You can’t earn God’s favor. Stop trying. You are driving down an exhausting road. Take the next exit and get off!
You are awesome because of God. When you really suck at life, praise God. His love for you hasn’t changed. When you knock it out of the park, praise God. His love for you hasn’t changed.
6.) We should never water down the message.
Alright, some of you are ready to write me off. Hear me out.
I am not interested in changing the message. The message must stay the same. It is the message of Jesus that transforms lives. It is of first importance (I Cor. 15:1-3). I am interested in changing the content of the message. This idea that the church should never alter the message so those who do not know Jesus can comprehend it is ridiculous.
“Frank, the Holy Spirit will do the work in those areas where people do not understand.”
Listen, I am a huge Holy Spirit guy. I believe in the Holy Spirit and His power. But tell me this…how is that working for you? You bringing non-Christians to Jesus with that mindset?
I was talking with a guy last week about this. He did not grow up in church. This guy has been a Christian for about 20 years now, and his words to me were striking. “Frank, I struggle to understand the message most Sundays. I don’t speak the language. So, most of the time I just tune out when the sermon starts.”
Translation: the church is speaking a language that is native to us, but foreign to those who have no framework for God. Call it Christianese. Call it whatever. But it is prideful to believe people should constantly reach up to our level. Tell me where you find that in Scripture? The prevailing theme is God and His people reaching down, not expecting others to reach up.
Yes, we have a standard. Yes, we are called to be holy. But that isn’t the issue here. The issue is making the gospel clear to everyone. It is equivalent to expecting a toddler to comprehend high school concepts. Ridiculous.
Churches that are bringing non-Christians to Jesus get this. The message is not watered down. It is convicting, and it is powerful. But it is not littered with big Christian words that only locals understand. If the goal is to make ourselves feel good and holy, keep using big words that only natives understand. Keep telling “insider” jokes that make locals laugh and outsiders feel awkward. But If the goal is to reach people that do not know Jesus, we must stop expecting them to know our language. Make a choice.
7.) God wants me to be happy.
Really? Where do you find that in Scripture? The word “happy” appears six times in the Bible, none of those in reference to God’s intention for your life. This is not a bad thing, though. Let’s be real…if God valued our happiness, He is a terrible God. Why? Happiness is more fleeting than a relationship on the Bachelor.
Right now, I am in a great mood. How quickly can that change? Let me pull out of this Starbucks and be t-boned at a red light by a granny who is too old to be driving anyway (sorry, I am bitter…forgive me). The other thing about happiness? It is almost always tied to the present. If we constantly lived for the present and our current happiness, what a miserable life most of us would have. How many times has something awesome birthed from something not so awesome?
The good news for you and me…God is much more concerned with lasting qualities like joy and peace. Those qualities that are unaffected by the fragility of life. Let’s all take a deep breath and say it together…God does not value my happiness. Now, doesn’t that feel good?
8.) We are growing!…Two families from across the road just joined our church.
Of all the lies, this one might be the most crippling to the church today. We have lost our purpose. We have forgotten our calling. We have neglected the Great Commission. Is it great to have a family from across the road join our church? Sure, but to view this as growth is dangerous. It is not growth. It is one Christian family moving from one church to another.
When will the church start looking at growth in terms of people that do not know Jesus? How many people have we baptized this year? How many people are in our buildings every Sunday that are searching? Is this not our mission?!
It is madness. There are people in this world that need Jesus. He is the ONLY source of life. Without a relationship with Jesus, there is no hope. None. And we arrogantly sit back week after week, lifting our chins high because two new families from down the road were tired of one church so they decided to give ours a try. “We are doing good…the church gained 8 people today.” No, the church gained those 8 people twenty years ago when they were baptized.
C’mon on church. Surely we are better than this?! It is time to run full speed towards the mission.
Join the conversation! What do you think? Are there other lies the church needs to squash? I love the church, and I want to see her become the unstoppable force Jesus Christ died to establish. By the power of God, we can do this. I believe we can!
I love you all! To God be the glory forever. Amen!