This is a first in a series of posts
about the church.
A well known magazine published a headline recently that Christianity was dying.
The primary proof point was a decline in the number of people who professed to be Christians. The
key question in their minds was what does this mean for Christianity.
What is Christianity?
Is it the institutional church? Is it the number of people who claim be aligned with the values
and teachings of the Christian church? The
Greek word translated “Christian” literally means “Little Christs”. Practically
speaking it is a term that refers to the disciples of the Jesus of the Bible, the Christ and for Christianity to die means
that Jesus and all but one of His disciples must cease to exist. There are two problems with that…
first, Jesus, because He is God’s only begotten Son, is eternal (i.e. can’t cease to exist) and second, disciples
of Jesus, because of God’s promise and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, share in eternity along side Jesus (i.e.
can’t cease to exist).
The bad news for the “Christianity is dead” crowd
is that Christianity can’t die. It can only ever grow. It has grown and is growing. However,
there is a problem and it is in the dysfunction of the Christian church, especially in America.
is defined as "malfunctioning" or "a consequence of a social or behavior pattern that undermines the ability
of a social system". In regards to the Christian Church in America, I'd say "right" on both counts.
I submit the dysfunction is caused by a few mis-functioning elements.
Mis-function #1: Place
and role of the Bible in the church
- What place and role should the Bible play in existence, governance, and functioning of communities
- What place and
role do extrabiblical writings (those not in the Bible) play?
- What about tradition, leadership, World systems, culture?
Mis-function #2: The role of Pastor in
is "pastor"? Is it a gift, a role, a position, a career?
- How does and should the Pastor affect the functioning of the rest of the community of faith?
- What about "elders" and other
leadership titles from the Bible and our faith traditions?
#3: The church as a corporation
- What are the implications of the "church" being
an entity apart from the believers?
- To whom is the "church" accountable and in what priority?
- How does the church being a corporation affect "ministry"?
Over the next several posts, I'll explore each
of these misfunctions in more detail. There were actually more topics in my original list. It included things
like, too many programs, lack of true discipleship, lack of conviction on tough issues, the cult of personality, and others.
However, as I thought and prayed through them, if we could address the first three "mis-functions", I believe
the rest would get resolved.
Feel free to interact with me as we go along. firstname.lastname@example.org