Jeffrey B Krall

UnChurching – The Modern Church Dilemma

DilemmaThis article about “unchurching” furthers the discussion from our article “The 12 Reasons Why “Mature” Christians No Longer Go To Church”. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you see if you identify with any of the reasons why so many believers in the West are unchurching… why so many struggle to fit in a traditional, institution church setting.

Many of those who are “unchurching” state the contemporary, institutional church is a man-made construct and therefore is irrelevant. There are other reasons these believers give for unchurching, but if you will permit me, I want to tackle the issue of why some believers say they no longer need a traditional church after their formative years.  Let’s look at the beginning phase of our spiritual journey to see how it might affect our perception of a church community today.

Your First Family-Church Model – Winning People to Christ.

This is like our biological family. A man and a woman (pastor and board) enter a marriage covenant (church bylaws) so they can bring children (new believers) into the world, in a safe, structured environment. The father and mother are the preeminent authority in the house (church). They are responsible to protect, provide, and train their children for least 18 years. When we are children (immature believers) we are completely dependent on the adults who provide us with a house, a bed, a bathroom, cloths, food, water, electricity etc. Since these new believers are vulnerable to deception and abuse, it is important that they submit to their parent’s loving authority. Accountability to this authority is needed during their formative years. Here are some things they will experience in this environment:

  • Regular Meals and Shelter.
  • Authority and Order.
  • Right and Wrong.
  • Discipline and Punishment.
  • Protection (covering) until They are Adults.
  • Their First Community Culture.
  • Their First House.

When people become part of an existing family (church) as adults (mature believers) the dynamics are much different. Accommodating these “adopted grown-up believers” can sometimes be a wearisome challenge for leadership.

For the millions of believers who are “unchurching”, they often express the same kind of disillusionments and disagreements that an emerging young adult experiences with their parents and siblings at home.

Is This About Cross-Less Christians?

Critics of “unchurching believers” say those leaving church think they are too mature to stay home, but are actually too immature to lay their lives down to help around the house or start their own family. Could these “dones” be unhappy because they feel it is all about them? Are their criticisms simply a case of “Moses and Cross-less Believers”? I once heard of a survey of 1000 pastors and churches that asked; “What is the purpose of the church”? 91% of the pastors stated; “the purpose of the church was to win the lost”. Not surprisingly, 89% of the people in those congregations said, “the purpose of the church was to meet the needs of me and my family”. As you can see, leadership and their congregations often don’t see eye to eye. One leader responded to criticisms of his church by saying; “We may be doing Church wrong, but I think God likes the way we are doing it wrong better than the way you are not doing it all”Unchurching

Is this a case of believers who carry a cross and follow Jesus and those who don’t? In Matthew 16:24-26 Jesus said we each need to deny ourselves, take up “our” cross and follow Him.

Maybe It’s Not About Carry A Cross, But About Gifting

Some believer’s dissatisfaction with church might be connected to the fact that they no longer appreciate the dominate gifting of (dad) the lead minister. For example; if you were raised by an evangelistic pastor, you may now be drawn to a teaching pastor, or vice versa. If we reluctantly stay at home, conflict may arise as we may unknowingly try to create our leader according to our preferences. This is when we attempt to “Create Our Leaders in Our Image”.

Just what is the dominate gifting of the leaders at your church? According to Acts 2:42-47, there are 5 purposes of the Church. Rick Warren wrote about the five purposes of a church in “The Purpose Driven Church”. Your leader and your church may have one of those purposes driving their identity and mission. Some large churches try to be and do all five.

I will leave you with this diagram to look over and to ponder; Is there one aspect of the 5 purposes of the Church that has influenced your decision to stay or leave? Is the group you are a part of now doing one or more of these purposes? Does one of these purposes reignite your passion for the ministry of Jesus?Purposes of the Church

 

 

 

 

The 12 Difficulties of Christmas

Mary 4When you don’t feel like God is with you because things aren’t going the way you think they should, remember this. The more friction and difficulty you are facing may be an indicator you are right in the middle of the will of God.

Let’s see how things really were for the main characters during the first Christmas.

The 1st Difficulty of Christmas – A virgin conceives – God breaks the rules.

(Was Mary confused or perplexed? Did Mary think; “Lord, how can something like this be something You are doing, when there are no precedents to compare it with”)

The 2nd Difficulty of Christmas – God uses a peasant teenage girl to bring His only Son into the world.

(Did Mary think; “Lord, are You sure You want someone like me to have the responsibility of birthing and protecting the world’s only antidote for sin?”)

The 3rd Difficulty of Christmas – God impregnates someone’s daughter.

(Where are Mary’s parents? Why aren’t they mentioned? If they were there, how did this strain their relationship? Did Mary think; “Lord, how will I explain this awkward situation to my parents?” Why didn’t Gabriel show up and make this announcement when my parents were in the room?”)

The 4th Difficulty of Christmas – God impregnates another man’s girlfriend.

(What was going on inside Joseph’s mind? How did this strain his relationship with Mary? Did Mary think; “Lord, don’t You care about how this makes me look to Joseph? Why didn’t Gabriel show up and make this announcement when Joseph was in the room?”)

The 5th Difficulty of Christmas – God does this in the most religious culture on the planet.

(Did Mary think; “Lord, why did You have to do this to me here, in front of these people, in this village? I’ve tried to live right, what’s going to happen to my reputation?”)

The 6th Difficulty of Christmas – They were required to submit to the government decree to get registered.

(Did Joseph and Mary think; “Lord, aren’t You powerful enough to get us an exemption from this government intrusion?”)

The 7th Difficulty of Christmas – Nine months pregnant and having to travel 80 miles through hostile territory.Mary

(Did Joseph and Mary think; “Lord, do You have no compassion for how painful and dangerous this journey is?”)

The 8th Difficulty of Christmas – No room in Bethlehem to have the baby when they arrived from their long journey.

(Did Joseph and Mary think; “Lord, can’t You plan better? Are You sure You are in this?”)

The 9th Difficulty of Christmas – They have the baby in a barn with animal dung floors.

(Did Joseph and Mary think; “Lord, couldn’t you provide something better than this?, Why are there more animal witnesses than human witnesses for an event as important as this?; Isn’t Your Son important enough to You to provide a better place for Him to be born?”)

The 10th Difficulty of Christmas – God uses the Star to let the Wise Men know about Christ’s birth but also allows a murderous king to hear about it.

(Did Joseph and Mary think; “Lord, why couldn’t You help us stay lost in the crowd that was in town and keep this a secret so that crazy insecure king doesn’t come after us”)

The 11th Difficulty of Christmas – They have to run because the king puts a contract on them.

(Did Joseph and Mary think; “Lord, why do we have to run? Can’t you just kill the king who is trying to kill Your Son?”)

The 12th Difficulty of Christmas – God comes to earth to become one of Us!

(God comes to earth in the flesh, to bring a holy blood transfusion for the disease of sin in each of us. When we accept this Good News about Jesus by faith, God can save us.

Perhaps the most difficult and delicate part in the Christmas story was God’s part. The Creator who spoke galaxies into existence used His best thinking to bring about the perfect way to save sinful humans, without making them robots.

For Mary, it was difficult physically, it strained her relationship with her parents, her fiance, her peers and the authorities…every area of her life was touched by God’s work in her life. I am so inspired by Mary’s silent obedience. May we all say as Mary said, “Let it be to me according to Your word Lord”.

For the rest of us, living for God and bringing Christ into our world is difficult as well. So the next time you feel like God is on “dial tone” or He has left the building because you are experiencing difficult times, remember the Christmas story. You can also think back to your school days; the teacher was always silent during the test. The Lord is closer to you than you think. He is Emmanuel…God with us.

Joy to the World, the Lord Has Come!