The Enemy Within
Today I am sharing something written by my youngest daughter that is important for us to all understand regarding the church. There are really no words to express the feeling you get when one of your kids picks up the baton and runs with it. I love sharing what my kids write because I think it’s so important to understand that truth is ageless. It’s timeless. It’s not something we eventually find in our old age. All of us should be on this search for truth, comparing everything to scripture, no matter how old we are. And, oh, how much heartache and consequences we avoid if we start on this journey earlier rather than later.
And so I love sharing what my girls write. I love not only that they “get it” but, more importantly, I love showing whoever is reading that young people can get it. They don’t need to wallow in self-absorption and shallow Christianity. I believe we just don’t give young people enough credit. So I hope this not only challenges your thinking on the church but also gets you to thinking about the young people in your own lives. Start having some good conversations and see what they believe. Point them to the Word and show them the truth. They may grab on to it with gusto and do great things for the Lord. And, even if not, you gave them the opportunity. We can’t discount the young people. They are our future.
Now, for some very important words about the current state of the church from a 22-year-old–
I believe the church of America is failing. You heard me right, failing.
Christians whine and complain about the declining morality of the world. However, have we stopped and taken notice of the declining morality of the church?
The church has been on a downward spiral. In general, its morality is compromising, its effectiveness diminishing, and its true purpose straying.
I believe there are a few reasons for this: #1, the Word of God is not being viewed as authoritative and all-sufficient in the lives of believers. #2, the church is losing the daily battle against the world and its influences. Lastly, #3, the world is seeping into the church and destroying it from within.
I want to focus on #3 today: “The world is seeping into the church and destroying it from within.” Your first thought may be, “wait, I thought the church is used to reach the world.” I think it is vital to camp-out on this thought for a moment in order to biblically understand this idea. The church (the place and body where believers meet to receive teaching, worship, and admonish one another) is not the place to reach the world. Before I lose you, let me explain further. The believers of the church are the ones who must leave the church and reach the world.
The problem lies in this: The church is trying to do BOTH. The church is trying to teach and admonish believers while welcoming the world with open arms. These two ideas are in stark contrast to each other. This approach will always end in one of two ways: The church compromises or the world leaves the church.
Unfortunately, this approach often ends in the compromise of a church. Let me paint a picture for you:
The church you attend is Bible believing and mostly solid. You have thoroughly enjoyed your past few years attending and often walk away from each sermon convicted. However, the past few months you have noticed small, subtle changes that begin to concern you. The leadership of the church is concerned they haven’t been growing enough in attendance. Therefore, they’ve started to add efforts to reach their community. While you love the idea of witnessing to your community, you’re unsure of their approach. The church leadership has decided that they’re just not “welcoming” enough and the sermons may be a bit too convicting for the general public’s liking. Soon, the worship service becomes more concert-like in order to draw in better crowds. The sermons become softer and kinder in order to comfort those who walk in the doors and not offend. The weekly youth group begins every teaching time with an excerpt from a popular movie. Your church’s efforts work: attendance is indeed growing. In fact, some of these new attendees are offering to help in ministry positions. However, while attendance is growing, the believers are not. The pastor begins to notice that his flock is growing complacent and their sin is abounding. He thinks, well, “at least the attendance is up and the world is now being reached inside the church doors.”
While I know that story may have sounded a bit absurd, I’m afraid it’s truer than we may like to believe. The drive to appeal to the world is slowly destroying the church. Appealing to the world is always going to result in moral compromising of the church.
I believe each church needs to take another look at its God-given purpose: to teach the Word of God, offer discipleship, worship, and Christian fellowship. If church leadership clings to teaching and growing its body in holiness and righteousness, evangelism will naturally overflow. The church will be healthy and unscathed from the world and the body will be reaching the world as they exit the church doors.