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Consider that Most Churches are Social Clubs

Updated: Apr 28

BY: Steve McGill

Millions in the country repeatedly exit their church parking lots with a mysterious, hard-to-identify discontent. They tell themselves it’s probably not them, then brush it aside and move on with the more crucial matters: What’s for lunch? Should I mow the lawn? Which game should I watch? There is something amiss in most twenty-first-century churches. They have developed a solid attraction for emotions-based experiences, have become preoccupied with social acceptance, and have lost touch with their Jesus-taught purposes. Most people go to church; few DO church.

Jesus was practical. His messages frequently started with metaphors and analogies, then he moved on to the next venue and repeated the process. Likewise, the ministries of the apostles of Christ were anything but emotionally-driven. Paul, a master communicator of the gospel, didn’t preoccupy himself with “preparing” his future converts with emotionally-driven platitudes; he simply preached the gospel. Conversely, in many of today’s churches, a strong emphasis is placed on preparing the congregation with a kind of spiritual buzz through songs riddled with the words I, me, and my. The feel-good emotionalism evoked by modern contemporary Christian music is so real, and it takes but a minute or two to get psyched up. The leaders of these churches understand the power of music, and they use it to draw the crowd in . . . to woo them into a mindset of belonging, concurrently convincing them of the need to “support” the “church.” 

The late 1990’s brought about the advent of social media. In 2003, Myspace launched, the beginning of many more advanced social media platforms to come. At first, these were used for simple communication purposes, but it wasn’t long before we were all attempting to impress one another for acceptance (along with a host of other destructive results). This trend to seek the consent of others by displaying impressive possessions and/or talents has infiltrated our churches as is seen in the multitude of programs, fancy facilities, elaborate “worship” bands, food and drink outlets, book and trinket sales, child-care programs, and much more. In Luke 19, Jesus throws out those who were buying and selling in the temple. Either after or during the time that He was doing this, he said, “My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.” There are numerous interpretations to the meaning of “house of thieves,” but one cannot deny that what was happening was a kind of stealing from the purposes of the church.

The main purposes of the church include the exaltation of God, the edification of the saints, and the evangelization of the world. We exalt the name of God through worship that reflects Him only and not ourselves. Edification is the building-up or strengthening of believers. This is done through deep consideration of the scriptures and through encouragement and support from other Christians. And the church has the responsibility of spreading the gospel throughout the world, starting with the church’s local setting. Some of these things occur in some churches, and in a few rare cases, all of these occur, but most churches have lost sight of these crucial characteristics taught by Jesus. They’ve come to offer feel-good music, entertaining programming, “Sunday School” classes more akin to daycare opportunities for parents, and so much more. The bustle of the modern church has overshadowed objectives that were meant to be found at its core.

If you find yourself frustrated by that hard to identify discontent after leaving the church service each Sunday, consider setting aside that Sunday afternoon game so that you can sit down alone and consider the seed of the dissatisfaction. If you conclude that it’s any of the aforementioned deficits found in the modern church, maybe it’s time to make a change. Maybe it’s time to DO church and not simply attend it. Consider finding others who are interested in the core objectives that Jesus taught, then take action. Exalt God’s name together authentically, encourage one another, and finally, evangelize others, starting with right where you are.

II Corinthians 10:7: Do you look to the outward appearance. . .?

II Timothy 4:4: They shall turn their ears from the truth.

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