Evangelical Christianity is fast becoming an event-based religion.
Is this what Jesus envisioned when He commanded us to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”? Mark 16:15
This is what the world sees today when they look at the Church, especially the western, evangelical, pentecostal variety:
• Massive “prophet”-led prayer gatherings in stadiums and arenas, calling for “divorcing Baal and remarrying Jesus” and other strange spiritual exercises. People who call themselves Prophets and Apostles set themselves up to be the Oracles of God. They claim God-given revelation and say that if we just pray hard enough, entire cities will repent in a day. Of course, when that doesn’t happen they blame regular church folks for not praying hard enough, or not being devoted enough to effect these kinds of miracles.
• Fiery, so-called revivals where miracles happen and gold dust falls on attendees – except that no miracles happen and there is no gold dust. And really, how do you advertise for “signs, wonders & miracles”? I distinctly remember that Jesus always said “to tell no man what I’ve done.”
• Slickly produced church services with all the latest gadgetry, professional musicians and live streaming on the web.
• Million-dollar game rooms, paintball fights, camping excursions and other activities designed to bring youth into the church.
• Money-making in-church cafes, restaurants, bookstores and clothing lines – “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple.” Matt. 21:12
I remember back when Jim and Tammy Bakker were building Heritage Village and the PTL Network, which eventually was destroyed by deception, thievery, sexual perversion and the inability to sustain the monster they had created. Churches today do the same thing when they overbuild and concentrate most of their money, time and energy on church programs that minister primarily to the people who attend that church. The pastor now has to sustain what he’s created, and that means bringing more people – and money – into the church. The command of Jesus to “Go out into all the world” is quickly forgotten, and subsumed by the need to pay for high salaries, church programs, toys and games, and expensive buildings.
How about digging wells in Africa, feeding and bringing medical help to refugees in war-torn lands, clothing the naked, loving the unlovely, and rescuing those in slavery instead? Wouldn’t those actions reflect the Spirit of Jesus Christ? And for those of you who would say, “We’re doing that!” I’d ask you – “How much?” Exactly how much of the church budget is spent on actually carrying out the commands of Jesus, doing the things He did? Is it 5%? 10%? 30%?
Are we called to follow Jesus 10% of the way, or even 50%?
Is the primary focus of your church devoted to physically going to the people who have never heard the name of Jesus – isn’t that what He’s called us to do? I maintain that if we are not giving everything for outward expressions of the love of God to the world, then we’re not doing enough. If pastors are not truly discipling their church members and giving them opportunities to become “ambassadors of Christ,” they are failing in their calling as shepherds and mentors of God’s people. If we’re not sacrificing building space, high-tech equipment, inflated salaries and fancy church programs for those who are daily dying without Jesus, then we are not obeying the final and most important command of the One who we say we follow. We deceive ourselves if we think otherwise.
I hear Christians moan and complain all the time about the church being attacked in the media, and how Christians are portrayed unfairly. Don’t we bring this on ourselves, when we try to be like the world, using superlatives and ridiculous claims to try to “sell” coming to church? Here’s just one recent example – and believe me, I could list hundreds if I thought you’d actually want to read them. Can you picture Jesus talking like this, or trying to make His followers feel like they’re part of an exclusive club?
How to catch a ride on the Revival Rocket
Choose your seat! There are three easy ways to start your journey into another realm at Revival Church!
Revival is about to launch and you are invited to join our company of burning ones!
SUNDAY night at Revival Church is going to be EXPLOSIVE! We are gathering together with people like you who have fire and passion for God’s presence.
Join this movement of ridiculous faith, healing and freedom in Detroit!
The “Revival Rocket”? Start your “journey into another realm”? A “company of burning ones”? “Ridiculous” faith? Not much there for the world to mock, right?
So how do we ensure that more and more people come in to a church, and keep the monster alive? How do we pay for $7 million buildings and $8 million renovations, while people are starving and dying without Jesus? How do we sit in our church cafes drinking lattes, while children are being abandoned and thrown away with the garbage? How do we keep church folks coming back for more, giving their money, time and effort in order to become one of “the burning ones”? The same way that Hollywood does – by entertaining and appealing to the flesh. Bigger explosions. More drama. “Going to the next level.” Being on the cutting edge. We appeal to people’s egos and desire to “experience” God’s wonder-working power.
It’s time we put away the desire to make a name for ourselves, or to see God “show up” at a meeting, or to hear God through the prophecies and revelations of a self-proclaimed “Prophet” or “Apostle.”
It’s time we stop making our faith a spectator sport, with bigger and better meetings. The only time Christianity was truly a spectator sport was in the Roman Coliseum, where followers of Jesus were being slaughtered and fed to the lions, and I don’t imagine any of us want that, do we?
It’s time we give up the ego-driven desire to be “one of the special ones” in someone else’s vision of grandeur. We need to become less, not more.
Now is the time to legitimately walk in what Jesus has called us to be and to do – follow Him to the ends of the earth. We can only do this by ending the hemorrhage of money and resources that’s wasted on ourselves and transfer that wealth to actually going out to the world.
How do we do that?
How about starting very simply. Check out Gospel for Asia, and their ministry to people who have never heard of Jesus. They take care of thousands of children, as well as send out thousands of evangelists on pennies a day to villages without hope. Believe it or not, every donation you send to them to do this work goes 100% to the field. Every penny reaches its intended destination, without stopping at the administration building or the Director’s pocket or the utility company. Every penny.
If you can’t go yourself, and you agree with me that way too much is wasted on us here while the world is dying, then give a little. Click on the link, read through the site, pray with an open heart and follow what the Spirit of God leads you to do.
“But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” I John 3:17