The Trouble with the Church

imagesThere is a lot of conversation going on right now about what is wrong with the church today. The various conversations rarely take such a direct route, but if you ignore the conversations tacking back and forth like a sailboat into the wind, you will see the conversations are heading in one particular direction. The conversations are about this simple question:

In the current age of  global connectedness and inconceivable amounts Christian theological resources, why is there not a global revival? What is the problem with the church?

There are many wonderful books out there which provide insights into this enigma.

Tim Chester and Steve Timmis wrote the book Total Church to address what they saw – a derailed ecclesiology moving forward, but possibly in the wrong direction. They believe the key to strengthening the church lay in authentic, gospel-centered community where authentic faith is lived out on a regular basis by the church.

Francis Chan looked out at the western, Americanized church and wrote Crazy Love. In this book he identified an unrealized understanding of God’s radical love and the missing radical response by Christians as the major problem with the church.

Speaking of radical, David Platt saw the same problem Chan did and responded by calling for a Radical faith on behalf of the church, who bought in to the American Dream instead of the Great Commission.

In a similar vein, Kyle Idleman wrote his book, Not a Fan, as a call for believers to get off the bench of passive Christianity and into the game of following Christ.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved each of these books. I think you and many others would benefit greatly from them.

But I think the very existence of book after book after book being published around the same conversation points to a very important point about what is wrong with the church in the world today.

G.K. Chesterton figured it out in 1908, when a newspaper asked him and a few other people to answer the question, “What is wrong with the world today?” His answer was simple. He wrote back “Dear sirs, I am. Sincerely, G.K. Chesterton.”

What is wrong with the church today? I am. And you are. And other Christians are. We have as many problems with the church as she has members. We do not live our faith consistently, completely and devotedly as we should, which prompts many people to write many books about what you and I are not doing. The problem with the church has been with us longer than the church.

So what should you do now that you know you are the trouble with the church? You should probably check out some great books by guys like Tim Chester, Steve Timmis, Francis Chan, David Platt, and Kyle Idleman. Stop attending church and start serving the church. Form relationships with those who need to be in the church. Whatever you do, do something. Just stop looking “out there” for the source of the problem with the church.

It’s not out there. It’s in you. In fact, I think it is you.

Don’t be alarmed. It’s me too.

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2 thoughts on “The Trouble with the Church

  1. “In the current age of global connectedness and inconceivable amounts Christian theological resources, why is there not a global revival?”

    The Internet has decentralized the church’s oligarchical power structure, enabling people to share a wide range of beliefs in a less constrained way, and to explore new and differing ideas. I’d consider that a much-needed intellectual revival. Here are a couple of other media perspectives that attempt to answer your question:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/apr/17/untangling-web-aleks-krotoski-religion

    http://nonprophetstatus.com/2013/01/20/atheism-the-internet-probably-doesnt-matter/

    http://www.salon.com/2013/01/16/religion_may_not_survive_the_internet/

    • Whitney Clayton says:

      Hey Isaac, thanks for engaging with me about the post. I understand what you are saying about a centralized oligarchical power structure, but I must admit, personally, I never encountered this in my 20 years in the home of a Southern Baptist minister. I never had any restrictions on my exploration of ideas other than what was good for my well-being (“study many things, but avoid dangerous ones” was something my dad would say to me. Ayn Rand was encouraged but porn was restricted for my well-being, and lots of studies reinforce that as true.). I disagree with the assumption that more education or learning will turn people away from faith. I think the actual problem is that most people do not think deeply enough about the issues of faith or non-faith. Two of the articles you pointed out commented on the importance of memes to the atheistic agenda online. If memes are turning people to or from faith or non-faith, it is assuredly not because of deep thought!

      Ultimately, I agree with Vlad Chituc. I think the issue with declining numbers in churches has nothing to do with the internet. I think it is a result of two complementary issues: there are a lot of people in churches that are not really Christians (and they may be filtering out) and believing Christians are not doing a good job of living out our beliefs. My short post above was an encouragement to Christians to follow through on their stated beliefs.

      Thanks for engaging!

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