I am talking about church service conforming to stay relevant and cool. We have Domino Pizza church services that deliver church in 60 minutes, or your money back. On top of that we use secular music and cultural themes to pack the pews. When you have 15 minutes allotted for worship, 2 minutes for announcements, a 30 minute sermon, 5 minutes for collection and another 5 minutes for prayer then we see you out the door so we can get the next service started.............Houston, we have a problem.
Francis Chan said the church now proclaims, "Hi, welcome to church. Here's your bulletin. We'll get you out in an hour. Come back next week." He asks, "What would the church look like today if we really stopped taking control of it and let the Holy Spirit lead? I believe this is exactly what the world needs to see."
Francis Chan calls the current American church "lukewarm." We are warned of this in Revelation 3:15,16, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth." This is what we are doing by trying to create a middle ground between Christ and the world, being lukewarm. We have forgotten there is no middle ground. This is Satan's world. You are either the problem or the solution; not of this world or in it with 2 feet firmly planted.
The church is doing a great disservice to those searching for hope. The nonbeliever comes to church for something different and supernatural, and is instead given what is common and known. We were told to be salt and light, but we are becoming tasteless and allowing the darkness of the world to enter into our churches. How are people to find hope, salvation or a reason to change how they are living when they hear a primary message that shouts, "Watch, read, speak and live as you want to, Jesus loves you as you are! See, we are just like you."
When the church begins to resemble the world it is in, that goes completely against what Jesus taught. He said that they would hate us, as they had hated him. James 4:4 says, "anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." That means we may lose some friends and alienate some people when they step into our churches. They should hear the salvation message instead of what they are hearing.
Christianity Today said, "The current state of our preaching is driven by an admirable desire to show our age the relevance of the gospel. But our recent attempts have inadvertently turned that gospel into mere good advice-about sex, about social ethics, about how to live successfully. This either offends or bores our culture. A renewed focus on the Cross is the only way forward."
We rely on being culturally relevant and preaching a "feel good" message as opposed to focusing on discipline and discipleship. It is no wonder we are losing our youth to the secular world. They do not have the Biblical knowledge to defend their faith, let alone live it while teaching and discipling others. Since this is the culture of the church, we are setting our youth up for failure. The Berean Call recognized this, and said:
In recovery we have dry drunks, in the church we have plastic Christians. Their foundation is unstable and likely to fall at any moment because they have only started the change and never moved forward with it. They are coming to church not because they want to make a sacrifice and put Christ first and foremost. They come because of what they feel Christ can do for them, or because they are afraid of what may happen if they don't accept Christ and go to church. This is merely accepting.
Ask anyone who works the 12 steps; acceptance is only step 1! There are still 11 steps remaining. Acceptance of Christ with no changes in character or behavior is a scary way to live. We are encouraging the dead faith James talked. He said that you can't have faith without works. Once you have truly accepted Christ, your life will begin to change. You will begin to live differently for all the right reasons. I did not start believing in God and stop drinking, drugging, cussing, smoking cigarettes, having premarital sex and fighting out of fear or because I was entertained.
My life didn't change because the worship team played Mustang Sally or Dave Matthews. It happened because I heard Christian music address my issues in the Third Day song, "Cry Out to Jesus" Brandon Heath's song, "I'm Not Who I Was" and "Forgiven" by Sanctus Real. It didn't change because someone told me how to relate a Harry Potter book to a lesson in the Bible. Instead the associate pastor met with me and introduced me to Lee Strobel's book, The Case for Christ, which examined the historical evidence for Christ.
My life didn't change because the church directed me to a Narcotic's Anonymous group like the one I was used to going to. Instead I was introduced to a faith-based recovery/support group called Celebrate Recovery. It helped me see some things differently. First, it let me see that a lot of people have struggles they cope with in unhealthy ways besides drugs and alcohol. I also realized I am no better or worse than everyone else, because everyone struggles. Finally, it showed me Christians aren't the judgemental hypocrites I had always known them to be.
My life didn't change because the first sermon I heard talked about a movie I had just seen and how it related to the Bible in one way or another. My life changed because I heard a message of forgiveness and salvation. I was told that "all have sinned." I heard that Paul struggled with doing the right thing, because it was his nature to sin. In fact, Paul said he was the worst of sinners yet was still saved by grace. Then I was told to make my body a living sacrifice and not to conform to the world. That changed me, not on the surface but at my very core. It gave me hope!
After over 2 decades of debauchery and Agnosticism I was changed because the Holy Spirit gave me hope in the knowledge of Christ's unconditional love and redeeming grace. I did not want to let Him down. The Holy Spirit led me to begin changing my life. I wanted to be like Christ and make him as proud of me as I possibly could. I still do. I know I will never be perfect, but my program has taught me it is progress not perfection. If there is no progress there is something wrong! I don't make progress because I get anything for it, but because I love God and have put Him first.
I think of the love my son has for me. He does everything he can to emulate what I do and to make me proud of him. He knows what pleases me and he tries to do it. When he can't do what I do or he fails in impressing me, he continues practicing and tries again. He does this simply because he loves me. He loves to see me smile at him and know that I am proud of him. Same reason I strive to do better in my life. I want to know that how I live is pleasing to God.
My life is a gift from God, and how I live my life shows God my gratitude. The problem today is that some churches are not preaching that message. They are using seeker-friendly, "feel good" sermons filled with fluff and acceptance of sins. In using almost doctrine, the unchurched are almost introduced to Christ and are taught how to almost live Christ-like. Because of that many find themselves almost putting Christ first and are almost not of this world. The problem I see today is many will almost get to heaven because they almost got saved.