An Unstoppable Church
I was listening to an online sermon by Francis Chan this week. I thought I would pass along a few things he said that stood out to me. I have never posted someone else's comments for my Blog, but I felt these were particularly worth relaying.
Chan was not speaking in a self-righteous manner, but he was asking some very important questions, both of himself and of the church in the West. I found myself asking those same questions.
Chan talks about how incredible it is to read the book of Acts (and it is incredible!) and see the boldness and love and commitment and power of that early church. He spoke then of how that same power and boldness and faith and love is and has been seen in underground churches in China and other places around the world. Even through intense persecution and suffering, the church was and is an unstoppable force. That was what Jesus intended. 'I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.'
Then, he shifted his attention to us, individually as professing Christians in America, and the American church itself. He asked some significant questions. Among them:
1) When reading the book of Acts and hearing first hand stories of the church in persecuted areas of their boldness, faith and how opposition does not stop such churches, are we (in America) bothered that we seem so powerless in comparison?
2) He asks, 'What are we doing? Are we playing a game?'
3) When reading the Word of God, the Bible, do you not see a disconnect between Scripture and what you see in the church today?
4) The church is to be this unstoppable force because we are empowered by the Word and Spirit and Jesus Christ is the Head of the church and we are redeemed and want to live our lives for Him. He then asks: 'is this who we are?'
Jesus says: "I'll build My church and the gates of hell will not stop it." This is His intent, the way things should be.
5) But, here in America, we are pretty stoppable. He is absolutely right. We know something is wrong but we just won't talk about it. Instead of living our lives fully for Him and in a way that causes others to grow, people to come to faith in Christ, we are fine doing things that are completely foreign to the Scriptures and what we see in those churches we say we admire.
He gives some examples. They are tragic, because they show just the state of what we have become. Why the church in America is so stoppable:
*Have the pastor leave and bring in another pastor who isn't as good a speaker-the church is dead.
* Cut the budget and people get angry and leave
* Don't like the pastor or the worship team, people leave
* 'I don't like that guy (or guys) at church so I stopped going.'
* 'You changed service times. I'm not going anymore.'
* 'I didn't get my way so I caused a rucus and left'
These are all foreign to Scripture. This is not the church of Jesus Christ. Chan asks:
Chan asks: 'What is this? When people leave over childcare and people leave over this and that.....or becasue this other church has this or that and you don't? You call that an unstoppable force? You've got people leaving over this and that and these are followers of Jesus? The gates of hell will not prevail against this?
Get rid of the building. Will you still have a church? Are people showing up to worship because they love the Lord Jesus and His Word and want to worship Him and follow Him? Willing to live and die for Him?
These are 'followers of Jesus?' The same Jesus who said, 'You want to say 'goodbye to your family?' You can't be my disciple. 'You want to bury your dad?' Forget that. Follow Me.
The same Jesus who said 'birds have nests, foxes have holes, but I have nowhere to lay my head.' This is who Jesus is.
"I don't even know where to start. You call this the church? Is this the unstoppable force? People leaving over programs? Shopping churches and these are followers of Jesus?
It's scary to me.
And it is to me as well. If we are to be the followers of Jesus we see in Scripture. If we are to be the church He calls us to be, we can't play games any longer in America. And, if we, as a church, are to be an uncommon church, an unstoppable force, as Christ intends, we must not be conformed to the pattern of our age, an age in which we are the heroes of Scripture and the center of the church.
It's all about Jesus. It's about living for Him. It's about passionately following Him. It's about not settling for 'doing church,' and instead, asking Him to make us the church He wants us to be.
The stakes are too high.
As we seek to move forward now, I pray we will never settle for the church we see so often in culture. May we run well and finish well for the Glory of God.
Our Savior and Lord calls us: 'pick up your cross and follow Me.' May that be said of us-that we do and did.
Grace and Peace,