All churches love certain things. Some love fellowship, some worship, some prayer. Those are good loves. Some are neutral loves. Some are not. Other churches love their building, their history or their strategy.
Those can be good or bad, depending on what we mean by love and how we value those things. But some things that churches love hurt their mission and hinder their call. Here are three I’ve observed from my work with thousands of churches.
1. Too many churches love past culture more than their current context.
It’s remarkable, and I’ve said it many times: If the 1950s came back, many churches are ready. (Or the 1600s, or the boomer ’80s, depending on your denomination, I guess.)
There is nothing wrong with the fifties, except we don’t live there anymore. We must love those who live here, now, not yearn for the way things used to be. The cultural sensibilities of the fifties are long past in most of the United States. The values and norms of our current context are drastically different and continue to change. The task of contextualization is paramount to the mission of the church because we are called to understand and speak to those around us in a meaningful way. We can learn much from the Apostle Paul’s example recorded in Acts 17:16-34.
So, a church on mission—in this time and place—engages the people around it. Yes, in some ways, it resembles its context—a biblically faithful church living in its cultural concept. But if your church loves a past era more than the current mission, it loves the wrong thing.