The Irrelevant Church
For several decades many Christian churches have been struggling to rebrand themselves in a fresh and new style that would catch the imaginations of the masses of unbelievers who are lost in darkness. They believe that catchy titles and phrases are what attracts people to attend their services. This movement has included the rebranding of the church as The Relevant Church, The Relational Church, The Purpose Driven Church, The Seeker-Friendly Church, The Emerging Church, etc. In spite of all these attempts and trials, church membership is still declining, and it is losing the culture war where society is embracing secular beliefs while rejecting Christian ones. An example is the popular seeker friendly movement put forward by the Willow Creek Community Church of Chicago. They tried new methods of doing church for three-decades to bring in new members and after a thorough critique, they admitted failure. They tried high-tech music, drama skits, stand-up routines, self-help and feel-good sermons, and worship centers equipped with the latest in creature comforts such as coffee and expresso bars. The verdict, even among unbelievers, was that this was nothing more than entertainment dressed up in religious wrapping. They sought to be relevant and instead became shallow. People seeking wisdom were instead shown foolishness. A generation of hungry and lost souls were fed sugary junk food instead of manna from heaven.
Well, it’s a good thing that these churches learned a lesson and will get back to solid Bible preaching. Unfortunately, that’s not the direction that they are going. Nope, instead they are embracing the teachings of the unbelieving popular culture and presenting them in sermons from their pulpits. Nothing like false teachings to grow the congregation! The thinking must be something along the lines that if only we preach what the majority of people want to hear then they will come. These churches will instead of bringing God’s divine truth to people lost in the Kingdom of Darkness will preach the deceptions of modern ideas and philosophies, such as relativism and post-modernism. The blind leaders of these churches will continue to lead the blind onto paths leading to destruction. Jesus and His apostles taught the true gospel, the gospel of His work of salvation. Only this truth saves. Only this gospel has the power to attract people to faith in an era when it is publicly declared that there is no real truth. Because there is real truth, the truth of the Gospel of Christ!
The Prevailing Church
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”Matt. 16:18
In the above passage Jesus commends Peter for receiving the divine revelation from the Father, verse 16:17, —— that Jesus is truly the Son of God and on this rock of truth the church will be built, and nothing can conquer it. Here lies the truth of the Gospel message; Christ is God, and He suffered and died to bring salvation to mankind. There is no greater absolute truth than this. This divine truth stands whether it is accepted or rejected, it is not dependent on man’s actions but only on Gods work. This is the message that the Apostles and the early church leaders preached. Minds were transformed, hearts were changed, and people were rescued from the bondage of sin. Sin, and its effects have plagued mankind since the Fall. Its consequences have brought evil and misery to every nation, even to this day. The church has battled sin during its entire history. The battle is the same, but the enemy has grown more cunning and sophisticated with greater deceptions to attack the Gospel truth. Church history is full of declines and increases spurred on by revivals, awakenings, and outpourings brought on by the work of the Spirit. God has raised up godly men during times of great lawlessness and in areas of spiritual darkness to bring people to faith. Spurgeon, Edwards, Whitfield, John and Charles Wesley, were all pastors who suffered, toiled, and preached to masses of rebellious unbelievers living lives of moral degradation and corruption. They succeeded where others failed. Though others preached and taught in the same areas to the same people, they were not successful. The reason for success was in the message and not in the messenger. The biographies and written works of these godly men give the source and message that they preached. They preached the Gospel of Christ. They passed on the teachings of Christ and the Gospel authors without compromise. They taught the full gospel message including sin and the need for repentance. The results were that lives were changed, people were saved, and order was restored to many areas.
The Prevailing Church as founded by Christ and on Christ will always be triumphant, even to the last days. Christ succeeded in His mission to save fallen man, and He continues to succeed. His church is the instrument by which the message of salvation is proclaimed to the world. The message brings Christ’s work of salvation to the ears of the lost through the power of the Spirit so it will not fail for those who place their faith in Christ. So, while many churches and errant pastors look for new ways to attract followers—– the answer has always been in the scriptures, if only they had not turned away from them. Jesus told His followers that it would be Him that would bring people to His church. In John 12:32, Jesus promises that when He is lifted up on the cross that He will draw all people, from every nation to Himself. His suffering, death, and resurrection will attract followers to place their faith in Him as Lord and Savior. His work is the greatest example of God’s love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness that can be shown. What greater attraction to the church is there than this?