The Church is Shrinking. I Blame Jesus.
I read the new article in Newsweek yesterday. It didn’t surprise me at all. It told me some stuff I have assumed to be true for a while. Things like:
Christians accept the attitudes and beliefs of Pharisees more than they do those of Jesus.
Christians have only a marginally better knowledge of the Bible than atheists.
Most Christians don’t know how or when the Bible was compiled.
None of this surprised me. It really didn’t. My Facebook news feed is filled with links to blogs by Christians telling me how Christians are blowing it.
And I’ll bet yours is too.
I see things everyday about how we’re more focused on making movies than disciples. How my sad, poor generation doesn’t fit in with the Church.
How big churches have this, and small churches have that.
She left the church, what happens next will make you cry.
You’ll never guess why he didn’t fit in his church…
Christian click bait.
You know the next headline. Because you’ve read the articles, too. And you’ve seen the blogs, posts, tweets. They’re everywhere: The Church is not good enough. This isn’t what the Church is supposed to be. The early church was better. Christians are hypocrites.
And it’s all true.
“IT DOESN’T TAKE A DOCTOR TO DIAGNOSE A COMPOUND FRACTURE.”
It’s true that the megachurch movement has grown at the expense of the mid-sized church. And it’s true that most churches didn’t have a conversion this year. And it’s true that I’m a hypocrite. And it’s true that you are, too (hypocrite means actor, by the way).
But here’s what else is true: it doesn’t take a doctor to diagnose a compound fracture. You don’t need an degree in IT to tell someone that that their computer isn’t plugged in.
And it doesn’t take a genius to point a finger at Christian culture and say that we have some things wrong about us.
We feel good about pointing our fingers at the Church. In cyberspace we post, link and tweet about how the Church has something wrong—as if, as a follower of Jesus, we aren’t actually in the Church.
This isn’t attractive to non-believers. We aren’t distancing ourselves away from anything. We’re making ourselves look bad.
Most of the responses to church-bashing blogs are by Christians agreeing with what’s written! We agree that there’s a problem, and we still can’t fix it!
Instead of fixing a problem in our hearts, we…
…look at one weird tradition that a church gets wrong and feel good about ourselves. Because we don’t have traditions. We follow the bible.
…hear about a preacher who cheats or a musician who loses faith and think that they’re what’s wrong with Christianity.
We look at the state of the Church and its leaders and look for someone to blame.
Well, I’m here to tell you who to blame.
Blame Jesus. It was his idea all along.
So if you’re mad at the Church, get mad at Jesus.
“THIS WAS HIS PLAN ALL ALONG.”
At the end of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus laid out this strategy. His plan. Speaking to His disciples, He said:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
After conquering things like death, Jesus returns to His disciples and spends time encouraging and teaching. These words above are some of the last that he says.
If I saw Jesus die, and now I’m listening to him in person, I’m excited; I’m ready for what’s next. Are we sacking Rome? Jerusalem? Destroying the temple? What does that even mean?!
What is Jesus going to do?
I’d be expecting Jesus to lay out the game plan. The X’s and O’s. To tell me how He’s going to save the world. What we can do to help Him.
And that’s exactly what Jesus does. Just not in the way that anyone expects.
His plan? It’s us.
“I DON’T NEED TO KNOW WHY POSTMODERN CHURCH MUSIC IS ALIENATING.”
‘I have God’s authority,’ He says. ‘So you guys go. But I’ll be with you, of course.’
Jesus’ plan is to work through His disciples. To save the world through us.
Why? I have no idea. But it’s Jesus’ strategy.
His plan is to save the world through us. Speak though us. Do miracles through us.
His plan is His people.
And His people are imperfect.
If Jesus expected perfection, He never would have put us in charge. He knew we’d mess up. He had to.
But here’s the cool part: our failures are not big enough to destroy the Kingdom of God. Let’s not kid ourselves. We’re not that powerful. Our collective cowardice is lesser than the greatness of Christ.
If we are His plan, and if He’s still with us, we don’t need any more blog posts about Millenials leaving the church. Posts like these wont accomplish anything except make me feel good that my church has three Millenials (props to my wife, Wade and Teshia). Oh wait, now we have five!
I don’t need to know why postmodern church music is alienating.
I don’t need to waste time writing about why the True Love Waits movement was an epic failure.
You don’t need another blog about what’s wrong. Sure, it might make you feel good. But I’m probably doing something wrong. And so are you.
You don’t need another blog pointing out the obvious, because Jesus knew that we’d make mistakes. If He wanted to prevent mistakes, He wouldn’t have told us to go. He would have said, ‘Stand back, y’all. I got this.’
It doesn’t take a great writer to tell you why people are leaving the church.
And that’s a good thing. Because I’m not a great writer. And you’ve got a brain.
So I’m going to resist that low-hanging fruit. It’s too easy.
I’m done complaining about the church down the street with the sign I hate. I’m tired about complaining about genres, leaders, strategies and fringe theologies.
I’m tired, and it’s too easy. We’re better than that.
Millenials leaving? Preachers cheating? New Atheists gaining ground?
It’s all low hanging fruit. If you want to read about these, hit the back button. Some other preacher just blogged about it.
For better or for worse (hint: it’s for better), Jesus bet the farm on working through His imperfect, hypocritical creation.
And He’s still with us.
Jesus. That’s what we need more of.
So this blog, His Plan to Save the World, is not about what’s wrong with our tribe, our religion, our culture.
It’s about what’s right. It’s about Jesus.
It’s about His Plan to Save the World.
His Plan is meant to be a place where I can share about the great things that happen in a dark world. In the Old Testament, Moses tells the Israelites to remember the things that the Lord has done. Talk about all of the great things. Remember, and teach them to your children.
Well, I want to do that. Great things. Good things. Funny and crazy things.
His Plan is His people. And He’s with us.
This is His Plan to Save the World.