“Many U.S. churches today have ‘forgotten’ their purpose, becoming entertainment-driven social organizations eager to blend in with secular culture instead of focusing on biblical discipleship” warns Dr. David Jeremiah in a recent interview with Christian Post reporter Leah MarieAnn Klett.
“We’re not an entertainment service; we’re not here to see how close we can get to what the world does,” said Jeremiah, the founder of Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries. “But there’s so much of the world in the Church and vice versa that we can’t tell a difference.”
While I would have some theological differences with Dr. Jeremiah, I would have to agree with him that too many churches today have lost their way. And have abandoned their God-ordained purpose.
Jeremiah believes that many churches today are worshiping “at the attendance altar,” by being too focused on numbers and are “obsessed’ with being relevant.
Ironically, he believes this false focus is actually driving away millennials and Generation Z.
“Here in California, we see interest on the part of millennials and younger for the Bible and for truth,” Jeremiah observed. “Most of the time, we see statistics about how people are leaving the Church, but in many respects, young people are demanding more truth, more teaching, and less entertainment. They’re not interested in shallow expressions of religion.”
The books of Acts records for us the establishment, growth, and spread of the Lord’s church throughout the first century. Beginning with the Jerusalem church we see the apostles and early Christians driven by God’s purpose. Acts 2:42-47 speaks to 5 specific spiritual components that defined the church.
(1) A Worshiping Church.
They met to praise God, pray and remember Jesus through partaking of the Lord’s supper. Worship was a vital part of their lives. It wasn’t a matter of meeting an attendance requirement, but voluntarily and enthusiastically joining with other Christians to “worship God in spirit and in Truth,” as Jesus commanded (Jn 4;23-24).
Jeremiah is right. Churches offering entertainment in the place of worship have lost their way. And people who are seeking a place and preacher who will amuse them, have missed the true meaning of the assembly.
(2) A Family-Bonded Church
Noted in the Jerusalem church was the closeness of the Christians. These Believers “were together.” They “had all things in common.” They met together “from house to house.” They were a spiritual family. God’s household.
Christianity was never meant to be a solo act. It has been often observed that we are not just called to believe, but to belong. The often repeated “one another” passages” remind us of our relationship with other believers. And the value of fellowship.
(3) A Bible-teaching Church.
The Jerusalem church was more than just praise and fellowship. They “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” They were interested in learning and studying the Word.
Too many churches are failing in the area of discipleship. Growth is a part of the Christian life. The shallow husks of social programs, entertainment, and superficial group meetings will not feed the soul and nourish the spirit. Discipleship is a life long process of becoming more like Christ. It cannot be achieved apart from faithful gospel preaching and fervent Bible study.
(4) A Ministry-Minded Church.
Beginning in Acts 2 and through the book, we read of the disciples meeting one another’s needs. Serving, sharing, and even sacrificing their own prosperity was common.
Collectively the church ought to be sure that no member is left behind. Hurting. Neglected. Or destitute. Individually, it ought to be our desire “to do good to all people especially to those who belong to the family of Believers (Gal. 6:10).
(5) A Soul Winning Church
The Jerusalem church was growing. The Good News was being shared. People were being converted. “And the Lord added unto the church daily those who were being saved”
It is been noted that The Great Commission (MK 16:5-16) is not a suggestion but a command. No matter what is else is being done, if we are not serious about evangelistic outreach, then we are failing in God’s Divine purpose for the church.
I remember the cry of old-time preachers who pled “Let the church be the church.” It’s a plea we need to hear and heed more than ever in the 21st century.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman