Doing Church Today

I attended a large Baptist church Sunday while on vacation. It was a moving service with a full choir and orchestra, a special singing group, and a standard-sized sermon (30 minutes or so). It was a rousing patriotic service and I couldn’t help but think that the founding fathers would have been right at home; but that’s not necessarily a good thing since most of them were deists and not biblical Christians.

In fact, any one who simply loved the USA should have felt right at home since all the hymns were patriotic songs, the choir and special singers sang songs like “God Bless the USA,” and the pastor preached, rather innocuously from Amos 4. This sermon, about the religious state of the nation, may have been the only offensive thing to the natural man; or at least it would have been offensive had the preacher actually preached the text, rather than simply share platitudes. At the most it was probably just a little puzzling to an unregenerate person.

The preacher did not exposit the text, he barely gave any background to demonstrate how the text relates to us, and he only mentioned Jesus Christ once, and then in passing, simply mentioning that some behavior ought to be possible by one “who has been saved by the blood of Christ.” No explanation of what that means, no explanation of what that has to do with Amos 4, the USA, or anyone present. But he gave an altar call and an invitation, even more odd since he didn’t present the gospel.

This is indicative of the state of evangelical Christianity today. Mentions of Christ are substituted for preaching Christ, singing songs that mention God stand in for songs praising God, and slick performances compete with both bells and whistles make us think we worship in the power of God.

All this is the result of our theology. Once God is no longer the center of our theology, we tend to make ourselves the center. When that happens, all that matters is what pleases us and what makes us feel good in our worship. The regulative principle, historically embraced by Baptist churches, goes out the window in favor of worship practices that will produce visible results.

The true result, however, is a shallow Christianity that calls believers merely to give assent to the principles of Christianity rather than to repent and believe, a church membership that is nominally Christian but unregenerate, a church life that is centered on the church itself rather than God, and worship that is more about feeling and entertainment than praising God by lifting up Jesus Christ.

May God raise up preachers to his church that seek to lead people in worship that is truly meaningful because it lifts up Christ and keeps God at the center by reminding God’s people of the covenant and the mercies of God that are ors only through Jesus Christ.

Advertisements

About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Doing Church Today

  1. Terry Lange says:

    I give anyone three guesses as to where this took place and the first two don’t count!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s