Blemishes on an otherwise pretty face?
Would you accept a church with no choirs?
Would you join a church without a children’s ministry?
Would you sign up with a church that doesn’t celebrate Christmas?
Just warming up. Now, the “toughie” questions:
Would you accept a church marked by prayerlessness?
Would you join a church that is apathetic towards evangelism?
Would you sign up with a church whose members are, simply stated, biblically illiterate?
You probably would not. Seriously. But you might find yourself in such a church, by default, rather than by design.
Not unlike the proverbial frog that adjusted to the increase in temperature until it got boiled to death, we usually find it easier to compromise than to re-calibrate. There are enough churches known for being outstanding in music (worship experience with smoke effects from fog machines and all) or genuine friendly welcomes by the ushering team or impactful community service efforts. But how many have the reputation for the “P factor” (prayerfulness) or “E factor” (evangelism) or “L factor” (literacy)? You can count them on one hand, and still leave a finger or two to scratch your head!
And these three are identified as some of the ten issues that churches wrestle with in the West. (Back in 2012, Darren Whitehead, teaching pastor at Willow Creek Church, listed these as the ten challenging issues faced by the churches, based on a Lifeway survey: Prayer; Discipleship; Leadership; Evangelism; Doctrine; Apathy; Marriage; Relevance in the church; Homosexuality & Abortion.)
A quick survey, conducted locally, generally supported that these three are also of common concern here.
Take Prayer and Evangelism for example. Nobody I know, and no church I know, would say they have “overdosed” on these. It’s always: we should pray more and we could reach “one more” for Jesus. And strangely, those who do a lot of Prayer and Evangelism feel they have not done enough. But, those who are barely “toe-deep” in it, may feel these are impositions used to make them (or their members) feel guilty.
Is it time to take a “selfie” or “wefie”? Let’s define the real problem. For we know that a Problem well-defined is already half-solved!
It may not be the “P” or “E” or “L” factors. Might it be the “R” factor, with R standing for “Relationship”, and specifically “Relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ”?
What would get us closer to God? How much do we truly treasure our Lord Jesus? How relevant is the Holy Spirit in our daily living?
Since we are living in the “end times”, we should be preparing for difficult days ahead. Will it take dire circumstances and outright persecution to bring us to our senses?
Billy Graham commented: “You also have placed your finger on another sign Jesus gave: Satan’s final attempt to halt God’s work through a massive onslaught of evil. Our world is no stranger to evil; Satan has always been working to stop God’s plans. But God’s enemies now have access to modern weapons of mass destruction, and no one can predict what the outcome will be. Jesus said, ‘You will hear of wars and rumours of wars. … Nation will rise against nation.’ (Mt 24:6-7).”
Draw closer and delight in His presence. When the “R factor” is correct, the others will simply fall into alignment. Pray up. Shout out. Dive deep.
Stop coming to church and start becoming church!
Dr Andrew Goh is the editor of IMPACT Magazine.
This article 'Blemishes on an otherwise pretty face?' was featured in Jun/Jul 2018 issue of IMPACT magazine.
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