“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins…” 1 Corinthians 15:1-3
I read so many blog posts and see so many status updates on social media about “What’s wrong with the church?” Now this isn’t an altogether bad thing. Just like with our physical health, we must be ready to diagnose sickness and other ailments in order to maintain good health. The same thing is certainly true with our churches and their health. When we see negative patterns, or symptoms of a sick church it is good and right to point out those things. You can’t “get well” until you’ve diagnosed the sickness.
My issue though, is too often I see pastors and other church leaders only harp on the symptoms and not on the actual illness. I see many blog posts on faulty programs, wrong methodology, bad leadership structure, misguided views on church membership, or just poor church polity overall. These things are certainly issues that need to be talked about and discussed, but my question is…are these issues truly the main thing we need to be talking about, or are they simply the symptoms of the actual sickness?
When I look at our churches, the biggest issue I see with the church isn’t any of the issues I’ve just mentioned, but the fact that we’ve got a large number of people in our churches and professing Christians that have never tasted and seen that the LORD is good. (Psalm 34:8) The Apostle Paul says in the first few verses of 1 Corinthians 15 that it is the gospel that he’s preached, and they have received, and the gospel by which they are being saved…that is of first importance. The biggest problem I see in our churches is that the gospel is no longer of first importance…even amongst those sitting in our pews…and sadly even those standing in our pulpits.
So many people think the problem in our churches is that we don’t have the right programs in place, or we aren’t “doing worship” well enough…or even that we aren’t evangelizing as we should be doing. I’m sure there is truth in all of these statements. Some people think that everything would be better if we could simply get more people to come to church…but I don’t think any of those things are the biggest issue. I don’t think new programs, better worship, or even more evangelism and bringing in more people to our churches is going to solve the biggest problem in our churches.
The biggest problem in our churches is that we have a bunch of half-hearted lukewarm Christians who are yet to fall in love with Jesus. We have preachers who are so passionate about secondary issues or are so concerned with being “relevant” that they’ve forgotten what is “of first importance.” It’s entirely possible for us to spend so much time talking about good things that we fail to talk about the greatest thing, Jesus Christ and His Gospel. It is possible for us to spend too much time talking about stuff other than Jesus, but it is impossible for us to spend too much time talking about Jesus.
I’m a firm believer that if we get Jesus right, and if the people in our churches fall in love with Jesus…then all of this other stuff that we spend so much time harping on will fall into place. As pastors/preacher/church leaders…this is our main job. To point people to Jesus so that they will fall head over heels in love with Him. If we do that, we’ve done our job…maybe if we focused on this more…maybe if we talked about the root cause of the sickness more…we’d see the symptoms that we are so worried and that dominates so much of our conversations about start to fade away…