just a question, not a condemnation

Have you ever wondered what Christianity would be like if we were willing to give up our buildings, programs and budgets?  I realize that it’s  vogue to ask questions about these issues.  Still, it’s becoming more important to me how I answer this.

We  have a lot invested in the current structures of Evangelicalism.  Money. Time. Resources. Careers. Reputations. Book Deals.  All of these things depend on a system which is supported by the economics of our faith culture.

These things are arguably bad and some will make that assertion.  However I’m not out to condemn anything.  Especially since this is a system in which I have been a willing participant.   However the problem with it all is that in order for us to support them, we need people to keep giving.  And in order for people to keep giving, we need to keep them in the seats.  Furthermore, so that we can rationalize our investments, we need to grow the congregation, thus increasing population and giving units.  Before we know it we have all become engulfed by a series of processes which seek only to maintain the structure which already exists and which may or may not support the actual building of God’s kingdom.  

For this reason and others many evangelical protestant churches are literally begging for people to join them.  I’m not saying that people aren’t also interested in preaching the Gospel and drawing people to Christ.  What I am saying however is that in order to do the latter we don’t need to be distracted by the former.  What if all the buildings, programs, budgets etc. have only handicapped the church by making it dependent on something other than Christ.  What if we were free to stop begging and start doing something else?

The early church didn’t beg.  No.  As a matter of fact, the early church wouldn’t let you come to the communion service unless you were baptized and you weren’t allowed to get baptized unless you’d been tested for a while.  In no way am I suggesting that we adopt these practices.  What I am saying though is that before the reign of Constantine, they weren’t afraid of losing anything.

I think that is a better articulation of what I’m getting at.  In the end, we have enough invested that we are legitimately afraid of losing something.  I’m wondering how this fear hinders us and what it would look like for us to be free from it.  Ultimately, I’m wondering if this is how Christ’s Bride is meant to live.

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2 thoughts on “just a question, not a condemnation

  1. Hey there!

    I think you rightly observe that there’s a point at which one ends up doing things to preserve the system, rather than the system serving the people. We build a building so that we have a place to meet, but when the building gets too big, we meet in order to maintain the building. That sort of thing.

    It’s not that the system is bad, but as you say: we have invested so much into the system that we can no longer afford to lose the system. Then we wonder why our college students don’t participate in our ministries, missing the obvious truth that we don’t provide them with something they value (it’s a different question as to whether it is valuable).

    I don’t know if this is the solution, but ministering from an incarnational model—taking the ministry and meetings to them—is something I’ve been trying and contemplating. It may not reach the masses, but it seems to meet the students where they are and get them to move forward in their faith. God bless you in your journey.

  2. We need places to meet as Christians. But in those place not the entertainment should be in the first place but the reading of the Word of God and the study of the Word of God. It is good to give something what youngsters value but they should get to learn to adore the Holy Scriptures and not all the singing and dancing and having just fun. Religion and worshipping is more than having fun, though it is a lot of fun.

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