“When the only tool you have is a hammer everything begins to look like a nail.” – Abraham Maslow —– The church in America is in a state of decline. There are more people going out the doors (be it carried in a box, or simply in mass exodus) than there are coming in them. Likewise, the groups of people who have never been a part of the church are growing in mass while their interest in the church continues to dwindle, respectively. The answers the church attempts to give speak to questions that aren’t even being asked and that haven’t been asked in a long time. The overwhelming focus within the church is polluted by the very same thinking – irrelevant and out-of-touch self-consumption.
“The problems in the world cannot be resolved by the same kind of thinking that created them.” – Albert Einstein —– The folks that know how to play church, or at least those who are susceptible to the “church culture,” are the same 40% of the population to which the church has been catering for years. It is a long-standing maxim that local churches stand and fall according to the exchange of “members” between them. What about the other 60% of the population? Are we waiting for “them” to become like “us”? Is there some point in “their” evolution where “we” take interest in “them”? What would “church” look like if “they” were included among “us”? Incidentally, church is not “Church” without “their” inclusion with “us.”
“Religion is the opiate of the masses.” – Karl Marx —– The ideology that “church” is a building to where we go, where we are entertained by a skilled professional, where we are consumers of that which is being peddled, and where we are spectators of the sport of “Christianity” is destructive and self-defeating. It is nothing more than a religion invented by humanity. It is nothing less than an addiction to a mind-numbing drug that dulls people to their responsibilities of being “the Church,” by definition. Church is the exercising of all the gifts of God in humanity.
In short, as long as the church attempts to answer the questions begged with more-of-the-same, future growth looks bleak. It is not because God has abandoned His worldview and neither is it because Jesus has abandoned His Church. It is because, at present, the church desires to manage the business of maintaining the status-quo of accepted norms. The established system senses death and seeks only self-preservation. Thus, in its death-rattle, it scrambles to produce more “programs” in an effort to prolong its state of unconsciousness.
Until we pull the plug on our self-centered religious system (and subsequently rise from the dead in Resurrection Life) we cannot answer the real questions asked and we cannot really be the Church – the expression of Christ – in a hurting world. God’s worldview is still the rescuing of humanity from itself, and Christ’s Church is still the place where God exercises that worldview. Once the Church recovers its role as the place where God meets the needs of humanity, once it ceases to operate out of human frailty (religion) and again moves and breathes in and out of divine essence (faith), once we come to the realization that Jesus Christ Himself is life for living, then we will see the true Mission of God; we will see, not conversions of cultures to Christianity, but transformations of lives in Christ.