Churchianity Unveiled?

In recent times, I've been privy to the frustrations and anxiety expressed by many in the Church concerning the lack of enthusiasm among the members of the Body.  Almost universally, they opine, the vast majority of individuals categorized as "unchurched" as well as those militant in the Body of Christ are apathetic, drones, committed to following some charismatic pastor, seeking only to conform to a new "radical and relevant" formulae for church growth or surrendered to "hip" forms of "doing church" according to the post-modern contexts and felt needs of seekers or believers alike.

That's not what I see.

My experience is that many of these symptoms - for lack of a better word, are the result of drudgery.  I have encountered members and visitors alike hungry for messages that instigate, challenge, teach and encourage listeners to "step-up" to counting the costs of following the Master.  They're in shock when they listen to messages that dispel myths of prosperity and command attention to the inevitable companionship of pain, for instance.  Where many pastors feel that their congregations may not be "up" to the challenge, I would argue that many congregations feel that their pastors mean well and occasionally do say something worth writing down, but on average, they aren't up to the challenge, either.  Seminaries are not demanding their students to be older, experienced, well-read in the classics, cultured and consumers of art, history and/or others avenues of creativity.  I find that the aspiration of many "up-and-coming" pastors and/or seminary students is to be like a current so-and-so pastor who is "relevant" and at the "cutting edge" of ministry... whatever that means.

All the while, congregations are seeking nuanced and well-informed expository preaching.  They're looking for pastors that crying out for followers of Jesus to heed the call for long-suffering, sacrifice, patiently wait on the Lord and praying for His will to be done; rather than putting their wants over real need, dependency on God instead of financial freedom and seeking God in the chaos over avoiding the chaos altogether through some slick spiritual slight of hand.

You see, I believe that congregations have called many pastors' bluffs and they have encountered emptiness when they genuinely prayed and raged against the strange feeling that there really wasn't any substance in the first place.  They have seen how the smoke and mirrors of "contemporary" worship, teaching, small groups and mega churches are losing their appeal over time due to their inability to keep up with the sobering wear- and-tear of real life, of hard times and disillusionment.

There are many wonderful Bible teachers out there, but I think congregations are now looking for those servants who are dead set on being saints.  Choosing bodies in action instead of contemplation doesn't make for poor theology.  All the contrary, it makes for fecund reflection and community theologizing - this is the Kingdom of God.  I see many members and visitors hungry for church history, for becoming better readers of Scripture, discovering the original languages of the Bible and really owning up to substantial prayer lives.

Perhaps much of what I write is still wrapped in race, ethnicity and nationalism.  I don't know.  I do know that my prayers for members hungry for more knowledge, asking the hard questions and willing to roll their sleeves up for the sake of the Kingdom is no longer a hope in my life as a doulos, it is now a reality I delight in - day by day - thanks be to God.


Pastor Daniel


Popular Posts