By Joe Chesser
Dysfunctional churches abound. They are in every city and in nearly every community throughout America and around the world. Dysfunctional churches come in all sizes and cultures, and are comprised of people who are liberal in their thinking, radically conservative in their thinking, and who consider themselves mainstream. Ray Hollenbach wrote that “it is difficult to stand in defense of the church when there are so many dysfunctional churches around us.”
It’s sad, but for many people, thinking of church gives them an ill feeling. Hollenbach further said that “nearly everyone has gruesome tales of hypocrites, self-righteous blowhards, and sexual predators.” No wonder so many people are having coffee and croissants at Starbucks and calling it church (or wish they could). It’s less demanding and abrasive, and offers a more relaxed atmosphere for social interaction, and occasionally, even some spiritual discussion. No wonder so many churches are competing with each other with their programs and services. No wonder so many churches have become entertainment centers hoping to attract huge crowds with their music and productions.
This raises some serious questions: Whose idea is all of this? Is what we see in churches today what God had in mind when he began the church? If not, what is God’s idea of church?
If we go back to the basics, if we go back to the time when the idea of church originated, if we go back to what the Bible says about church, we will learn that the idea of church came directly from God. In a time when the idea of church was non-existent to anyone on earth except for Jesus himself, Jesus revealed His plan to build a church that even Satan couldn’t destroy (Matt. 16:18). Oh yes, the people had expected a Messiah, but their greatest hope was that the Messiah would re-establish the political kingdom to Israel. This was true even on the day Jesus ascended to heaven (Acts 1:6). It was just a few days after that (on Pentecost) when the Holy Spirit revealed the concept of church to the Apostles. That day God’s idea of church first began to be understood (Acts 2:38-47).
My point is that the idea of church was God’s. Since that is true, I suggest that our concept of what the church should be today should come from God, not us. Our ideas have created dysfunctional churches. Our ways are not working. Let’s look in the Bible for what He had in mind for the church – and follow that.
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org