Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Show Church

In North Korea there are churches that have been opened by the government, just for show. I was pondering recently over the situation in America. One wonders how much of what we Christians do is for the same reason, show. How many churches are run by the bulletin instead of by His program? How many have an agenda that must be kept at all costs?

Order is essential in a congregation, we understand. But when the meeting becomes predictable, or when the flesh dictates that order, one has a show church.

For example, today many pastors refuse to wear ties, in deference to the unpopularity of that item of the male wardrobe. It is assumed that the donning of casual dress will attract casual people. This is fleshly thinking.

In many churches, the desires of the young have been placed over the wisdom of the elderly. Music is one of the victims of this decision. For generations the church has passed on a rich tradition of in-depth majestic hymnody. The great teachings of Scripture have been put to music, and passed on decade after decade. As new songs have come along, those of wisdom have slowly added them to the collection.

But now, the collections are set aside en masse. Entirely new collections are in place, and weekly there are new songs added to the list. A man who has been a Christian for 50 years can sit through a meeting totally a stranger to the music portion of the fellowship. And he can think he is a stranger to the church, being left behind. This has not been true in every generation. It is sadly true in this one.

Often, standing before such elderly saints are young rockers, who have been granted sanction in this fast-evolving scene, authority to lead, not only worship, but devotion, prayer time, up to half of the meeting. Certainly we honor the new believer, and want him to learn leadership skills a bit at a time. But the wholesale turning over of pulpits and platforms to the young is not a Biblical precedent. It is more fleshly thinking. And it is destructive to all concerned.

The thinking is, We will let these people get involved, and then they will stick around. We used to think of such a process as bribery. What if they are not given heady leadership roles, and attention? Will they drift away? Is this what the framers of the New Testament saw as a likely scenario for church growth? Is this how we progress?

Or is this a show church? A church that hopes to grow by having the best show? Should not a warning be posted to the ones responsible for sheperding God's flock, that those who neglect the ancient landmarks in the interest of attracting those whose motives are fleshly will produce a fleshly church, a la Rome? When the saints are set aside so that the world can be promoted in God's holy church, is that church holy any longer? Is that church God's? When the sheep are bleating out their pain at the hijacking of their fellowship by those who only seek ambitious fulfillment, shall not the shepherd take action?

Evangelism is to be by testimony, not by show. Not the best building in town. Not the best performance in town. Only the purest Gospel, the most defining of standards, preached all week by its members. Raise the bar high. Let the world know that without help from above they cannot reach the wonderful ways He has given us.

Is that not how we were raised? Oh there were those who became "all things" to us. There were youth leaders who drew us in and made us feel comfortable. But there was also a higher plane to which we attained. There was a corporate meeting of men and women to whom we aspired. The elderly men stood before us, and by life and word led us to better things. Who is leading now? Certainly not the men, in more and more churches. And certainly not the elderly.

I fear that these later inventions will be exported to North Korea when it is finally open to the Gospel. So many Koreans are in America drinking in American ways. And so many want to take this brand of Christianity to the North. May God help us to understand that the brand of Christianity already in North Korea is what they need more of, not our brand.

There, people come to Christ because they love Him. No one else in his right mind would take the journey to certain suffering. They need not rock music, modern ways. They already love Him more than many of us. They don't need to be bribed. Sprinlked throughout this barren nation are pockets of believers worshiping and learning of the Master, serving Him alone.

They have found the way of the Cross. The way of the Cross trumps the way of the show. is a website made to ask believers to pray for North Korea. Recently I have added Bible teachings to the menu. There are nearly 300 blogs , a live news feed , lists of resources, picture essays, and ways to respond to the overwhelming need in North Korea. Let's love Chosun together! Contact me any time at Audio teachings at under my name.

And who am I? A man found of God over 50 years ago, called to the ministry, serving the Lord as needed in my world. Married, member of a local church in the Chicago area, with full time work in public education. Would love to fellowship with believers who respond.

Time To Yourself And Meditation

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