Rethinking Church

Why do you go to church? If you are like me you go for the wrong reasons.

Surrender

I used to go to church to learn the word, fellowship with other believers and to minister to them. I picked a church that I would get a lot out of.

But something has happened in the last two weeks that has changed all that. I have spent the service in the Boiler Room the last two weeks and it has changed my life.

What if church was not about my learning, my being ministered to and my being blessed? What if church were about ministering to God, blessing Him and glorifying Him? What if we spent an entire service doing nothing but thanking God for what He has done? Would that be a waste? Or would that be true church?

American Christianity has become so focused on people that Jesus Christ has become just a tag line to end our selfish prayers with. What rot. The church was never about the people.

Something changes when you pray for 30 minutes without asking God for anything. Something shifts in your life when you pray for two hours and ask only for the needs of others. I used to wonder how the great Christians of old could pray for hours and hours. But when you thank God for what He has done, praise Him for what He is doing, and worship Him for who He is, there are not enough hours in the day to even begin.

Not only is the self focused "feed the people" form of church wrong, it doesn’t work.

Many Christians have listened to hundreds if not thousands of hours of sermons and yet cannot pray aloud, share the Gospel or interpret the Scriptures. We know the the importance of these things but they don’t spring out of our hearts because our hearts are not connected to the Spring.

19 out of 20 Christians have never read the entire Bible . According to Bill Bright, only 1 in 50 Christians regularly share their faith with others. Many Christians feel uncomfortable praying out loud because they do it so rarely.

Something is broken and its not on God’s end.

We don’t need another sermon on the importance of Bible reading. We need to make Jesus the first thing. The Bible is great but without God it is just ink and paper. If Christ is not the Source of our Spring then the second things have nothing to flow out of.

"You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first."

-C.S. Lewis

Changing the purpose of Church from ministering to ourselves to ministering to the Lord shifts everything around. Or rather, it shifts us around so that we point in the right direction. The ends become the means and the means become the ends. Jesus and His Kingdom become the goal to which all of life is but a means.

This changing of direction could be called repentance. I call it faith. It takes faith to believe that if we focus on Christ alone our needs will be met. Or, that it is ok if they are not. Believing God’s ways are best and walking in that belief is an act of faith.

The Kingdom is not about location, it’s about direction. It’s not in words but in power. You are either walking behind Jesus or you are walking your own way. In programing we call this a binary value. Following Christ equals either yes or no. There is no sorta.

Are you following Christ? Or are you trying to get Him to follow you? If Jesus is not before you, if He is not the first thing, you are pointing in the wrong direction. Repent.

Thomas Umstattd Jr. is the author of Courtship in Crisis, the former head of PracticalCourtship.com, and co-founder of the Austin Rhetoric Club, a homeschool speech and debate club in Austin, Texas. He is a professional speaker and CEO of Author Media. He sits on the board of directors for several nonprofits, including the Texas Alliance for Life.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

5 thoughts on “Rethinking Church

  1. It is hard but true. I can remember some of the most awesome prayer times being when I just thanked God for all He was doing. I really think it pleases Him. 🙂 I still believe that at church (and really everywhere) we should be meditating on and teaching God’s Word. He gave it to us for that purpose (doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness – 2 Tim. 3:16). But I see what you are saying… Church has become humanistic and not about God but about “me”. It is very sad and wrong.
    One of my favorite verses is Ps. 27:4. “One thing have I desired of the LORD and that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple.” David is saying that the most important thing to behold the beauty of the LORD (worship) all the days of his life. That was the one desire of his heart. I pray that will be the my ONE desire. Anyway, great post! Thank you.

  2. I agree. God is not the author of such confusion*, so guess who is. Churches in our culture need an awakening — today would be a good day to awaken, wouldn’t it?

    We know that a technical definition of sin is, “Scripture violation.” This definition has been helpful to me, and can help me sort through issues like churches in need of awakening. I am convinced that we can solve all problems from the standpoint of prayerfully searching for, and turning from, our Scripture violations (as in Psalm 139:23).

    Am sure that we agree that Scripture is what it is; it is everything it claims to be. And that, if (when) we violate it on a single point, there is a just and wholly appropriate consequence. Any such violation most often also sets off a chain reaction that further displeases the Lord. Heavenly-legal consequences for sin are visited not only on the person(s) who violated Scripture on a given point, but also others associated with them. Though sin has been atoned and forgiven through the work of Jesus Christ on His cross–to people who fail to trust Him for this, sin is added, multiplied and increased. Even saved people sometimes do not realize they are violating Scripture on this point or that–or, at least not fully appreciate the consequences of a compromise. Even we within American Christendom know nothing yet as we ought to know (1 Cor 8:2). So, this struggle with the power of sin in our lives and churches quickly becomes a very complicated sort of mathematics or physics that is beyond all our power to solve.

    As in all matters on which Scripture speaks, the Scriptural doctrine of the local church (ecclesiology) ought to apply thoroughly to churches, of course. Violate these instructions, and we will reap consequences. Right away these days, we see many places where church administration compromises are made, and we also see complicated consequences. And sometimes major consequences; the worst of which would be an “Ichabod” pronouncement**.

    One of the first places I see Scripture violated in the administration of a local church is in registering it with the government (government license to preach; fiscal reporting to the government on attendance roles, God’s tithe, gifts and charity; etc.). Once a church does that, I am convinced that the doors are actually never opened to God from the start, and His ministration–as essential as it is–does not occur any time afterward; at least, not because of that church. I believe that registering a church with the government violates His successfully revealed Design (ask our Russian and Chinese brethren): that God’s local churches are to be independently dependent upon God, and free always to obey Him thoroughly.

    In Revelation 1:20 and 2:5, God reveals to us that a “candlestick” of God is supposed to have His place within each local church, and that it can be removed by God. Administration of a local church must be worthy to host His candlestick. All must be conducive to the ministry of God, the Holy Spirit. This ought to be the first contemplation at church start-up or awakening.

    * – 1 Cor. 14:33: “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”

    ** – 1 Sam 4:21: “And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, …”

  3. I don’t want to imply that the Bible, prayer or evangelism are unimportant. What I am saying is that they are not of first importance.

    The Bible tells us to love the Lord our God with all our heart mind and strength. Only God can be of first importance, everything after Him is second.

  4. Good post! I actually read your blog. I love your passion and desire to see the supremecy of God in all things – including and especially in His church.

  5. I met you last weekend at the Bell County Flea Market. It was my first visit to buy or sell there. I was speechless due
    to Laryngitis. My husband was selling knives. I went to our vehicle to write you a note,turned around and found that
    you were already gone.

    I wanted you to know it was nice meeting you. I also hand out tracts and the little booklet “Save Yourself Some Pain”
    by Ray Comfort. I also have a box of free Bibles in English and Spanish. I miss going out and talking to lost souls.
    I myself, slipped way down the ladder and have been slowly making my way back up. God did not leave me – I left him on my own idiocy. I am not proud of myself in any way. I kept reading how God will not allow you to make him look bad or foolish and I realize the only one I made look foolish was me.

    I would like to go out and about one day with you and whoever else may come and go where God leads us. He is an amazing God and I am becoming a humble child.

    -In God’s hands, Valerie Bishop

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