There are a number of beliefs, whether spoken or not, which characterize much of the American church that need to be reexamined. These beliefs are culturally based but not Biblically based. 

Bigger is better
Why? Healthy churches are better but why is a bigger church better? In God's economy every size church has a place, has its strengths and if it is seeing lives transformed is living out it's call. Defining success by church size (which in our competitive American space is popular) is a sad commentary on how we view the Bride. It also diminishes those who serve and happily attend smaller fellowships. Why did Jesus say "When two or more are gathered in my name?"

Success is numbers
By that definition any number of liberal or even cult groups are successful. Spiritual fruit in changes lives is success but not necessarily numbers as most church growth is simply a reshuffling of God's people. Counting buts, bucks and programs is not a biblical definition of success. The Book of Ephesians is pretty clear on what a successful church looks like: transformed lives with everyone using their gifts for Jesus in the places He has put them.

People need to be entertained
That is what television, rock concerts or whatever it is that entertains one is for. We come to worship the almighty, everlasting, all holy, omnipotent, creator of everything that is, redeemer of our very lives and the one before whom every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Entertainment? Just the opposite: it is the worship of Him with all the attention going to Him and the focus is on Him. Entertainment is about making us happy. Worship is about making Him the center of all that we are.

Deep theology is passe
When Paul wrote to the Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Thessalonians and the others he was not writing to the cream of society, the most educated or the sophisticated. He was writing to cobblers, slaves, the poor, the uneducated in many instances and plain ordinary people. And what did he do? He wrote to them about the great theological truths of the faith and even used big words like redemption, justification, gospel, incarnation, transformation and then made it all practical. Not only did he not shy away from theology (the study of God) but he put it front and center because he knew that if people didn't understand the basics of God that they could not follow Him as they should. 

When we dumb down the message to make it more simple, palatable, self focused or easy to accept we do an injustice to the text and to those we preach to. Remember it is not our truth but God's truth and some of it is not politically correct or easy to accept. But it is His message to us and even the most unsophisticated are able to understand that message.

God blesses his people with health, prosperity and success
If that is true Jesus, Paul, and the Apostles somehow missed the memo. Jesus blesses us with an abundant life by His definition not by the world's definition. I am always amazed when Christians are surprised that they suffer or suffer setbacks, or see a loved one die, or face other reversals. We live in a fallen world and the impact of that fallen world impacts us as it does others. What we have in the midst of all of that is the faithfulness of Jesus (Romans 8). Nothing can separate us from His love but a lot of things can separate us from health, prosperity and success.

Come to Jesus and all will be well
We don't come to Jesus to fix our failing marriage, health, solve the bankruptcy or home foreclosure or whatever our issues are. We come to Him to fix our broken and sinful hearts, to cleanse our sin, and to give us a new transformed nature. May that have an influence on the rest of our lives? Absolutely. But it does not mean that all will be well or our problems solved. Therefore we should not promise that to people. What we should promise is that God wants to transform us, make us family, change our hearts and give us His Holy Spirit to live in our hearts. 

In ministry, money is the key
If we had more money we could hire more staff, build that addition, renovate our worship facilities, get more ministry done and the list goes on. All of those may be good things but God is not dependent on our money in order to see His kingdom advance. It is a part of the equation but only a part. What God wants more than larger church budgets is the personal involvement of His people in living out their faith in their circles of influence at work, at play, and at home. In ministry God's people, filled with His Spirit and joining Him with His work is the real key.

What other false beliefs do you see in the American church? It is worth thinking about because we get so wrapped up in our culture that we don't realize that some of what we believe or take to be true may in fact be false. 

  • Sep 25, 2012
  • Category: News
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