Friday, November 20, 2009

Yeast Infection

I was reading Matthew chapter 16 this morning. It's not new to me. I've read it countless times over the years. But this morning something stopped me. Jesus warned his follower to beware the yeast of the Pharisees. Again, not a new verse to me. But this time I stopped to think about just what the yeast of the Pharisees actually is.

This warning is tucked in with a harsh rebuke to the Pharisees for giving their own rules the same weight as the word of God. It dawned on me that much of the Christian church today has a terrible yeast infection. We've built a fortress of rules and doctrines that we claim are rooted in scripture. These man made rules often carry as much or more weight than the actual scriptures. These rules keep the people inside feeling very self-righteous and those on the outside feeling very rejected. If that sounds familiar, it's because the church of today is almost a mirror image of the Pharisaical culture of Jesus' day.

We haven't been vigilant and the result is the yeast of the Pharisees is folded into our Christian culture so completely that we don't even recognize all the places into which it's crept. From our buildings to our classes to our worship services to our seminaries it's amazing how much we look like those Jesus railed against and accused of being the blind leading the blind. Will we ever wake up and realize just what kind of ditch we've fallen into? I sure hope so.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

I Have This Question

This morning I was struck with a question. What can we do to reverse the decline of the Christian church in America? I believe revival is a work of the Holy Spirit. However, I also believe that people can actively seek and pursue revival. I'm talking about revival of a scale that will rank up there with the historical revivals since the birth of the church.

I posed this question to my friend Thom Schultz and he had a really insightful response. He's attending a church outreach convention and listening to church leaders talk amongst themselves. His observation is there's a lot of pride among pastors. They continue to pursue old and ineffective ways of doing church but think all is well. Essentially, they're the band on the deck of the Titanic playing away as the ship sinks (my comment not Thom's). Thom has lots of great thoughts on the decline of the church on his blog. You should check it out.

How would you answer the question? What can we do to reverse the decline of the Christian church in America? I know this, we can't keep doing what we've been doing unless we're content to watch the church slowly slip into the dark night of irrelevance in our country.

FINAL NOTE: This post is about the Christian church in America NOT Christians. Those who follow Christ will always be a vibrant, dynamic force in this world. The Church, that is the body of Christ, will always thrive, grow and change lives. Is the pride, arrogance and lethargy of the American church pushing the Church to some other place in the world? If it is, how do we bring about revival here?