I often reflect on my early years in ministry…and the questions I wrestled with then. As I look at my struggles my first five years…not that much has changed. I still struggle with the same things…
#1 – Why do people criticize a church that reaches people?
I remember hearing early on in my ministry how evil Willow Creek/Bill Hybels was…so…I went to a conference where Hybels was speaking (so I could make my own decision) and watched him WEEP over people far from God (something I had never seen his critics do!) It didn’t take me long to realize that his critics were not motivated by concern…but rather jealousy.
Yet…this still happens today. In fact, it is quite popular to speak against anything that is growing in Christian circles…because if it can be shown in a negative light then it empowers other churches/organization to stay where they are and not make any sorts of adjustments.
#2 – Why do churches continually invest in broken systems?
For example…I am from Baptist world (this will be fun)…and I never, EVER, understood the concept of Sunday school. The church begged and begged people to go…but the pastor didn’t go, the staff didn’t go–HECK, the Sunday school director didn’t even go!!!
If I am remembering correctly…SS attendance in ever major denomination has been DECREASING since the 1970’s…and yet churches STILL invest in the system that DID HAVE IT’S DAY…but needs to be let go of. (I am REALLY making a lot of new friends in Baptist world right now! Guys…I don’t hate you! My heart is built on nothing less than Lottie Moon and Broadman Press! I just desperately wish change would be embraced for the sake of HIS KINGDOM…and the SBC’s goal would not be merely to survive…but thrive!!!)
The other thing that comes to mind here is the way churches invest in youth and children’s ministry! Seriously…I’ve read statistics that say up to 80% of CHURCHED KIDS walk away from the church when they graduate high school…and very few EVER return. Could one of the problems be THE WAY the church approached ministry? If so…then does the church MAYBE need to make some adjustments?
If the system is broken then say it is…and doing so is NOT irreverent…it is actually honoring to God!!!
#3 – Why do “Christians” hate people who aren’t like them?
This was REALLY confusing…I remember churches organizing abortion protest and then going out and yelling/screaming at people entering the abortion clinics and such.
NOW…let me be very clear…I am NOT for abortion…at all! BUT…I remember thinking during the times when these protests were quite popular, “what about the girl who is sitting in the church right now and has had an abortion?” (You can actually put anyone in that situation…the person who has given away their virginity, had a divorce, struggles with an addiction.)
Unfortunately…I’ve discovered that the people who most often look down on people who aren’t as “good as them” are usually hiding something of their own!!!
Oh…and one more thing here…why do “Christians” hate people who don’t believe just like them? (The reformed guys are usually the worse…and, being pretty much reformed in my theology I believe I can say that with integrity!) We all have different beliefs…but I would say if we could claim the Nicean Creed as our common ground…we should be mature enough to work through the rest.)
#4 – Why do pastors/church leaders listen to people who tell them what they should be doing…but have actually never done it?
If I wrote a book on surgery…the how to’s and such…there isn’t a doctor in the world that would buy it and/or attempt to apply what I had written! Why? Because…I am not a doctor…and I have NEVER actually performed surgery.
Yet…someone who has never planted a church and/or been a pastor can write a book in the Christian world…and church planters/pastors will devour it. Some people call this brilliant…I call it stupid.
The world seems to grasp this concept…learn from people who have been where you want to go. Yet the church seems to embrace, “listen and learn from the people who have never actually done anything…but have really good theories.”
Pastors/church leaders…if you want to learn the seek the wisdom of people who have actually done what you are wanting to do. (BTW…these people do not descrie themselves as “experts”…but rather servants who simply listen to the Lord and do what He says!)
And for the person/people who have great theories about how to plant/lead a church…I would say if you really believe in your theories then why don’t you risk it all and put them into practice rather than trying to make a profit by selling your untested ideas to men and women whom you are hoping may have the faith that you don’t actually have?