Skip to main content

The Great Commission Didn't Include "Programs"

Growing up as a Pastor's Kid, I participated in every event at church -- every time the doors were open.  Over the years, we belonged to churches in rural, urban and suburban settings.  I invited countless friends and neighbors to activities such as Vacation Bible School, holiday ("Harvest", Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day) celebrations, and youth group retreats.  However, I can't remember a single person who encountered the Gospel at one of these events and subsequently chose to pursue a lifelong relationship with Christ.  This. Is. Heartbreaking.

As we prepare to move abroad, my thoughts have naturally been on the differences between American church culture and the way Christianity is practiced in other parts of the world.  And I find myself asking: why do we (American Christians) waste so much money, time, and effort establishing and executing programs and activities that are not prescribed by Scripture?  Especially (and sadly) when they don't seem to make a long-term difference in the lives of those we are trying to reach?  

Jesus commanded us to make disciples, which could theoretically happen in the context of a church-executed event or program.  But far more often, the relationships required for this kind of change neither begin nor continue amid such frenzied, themed operations.  Instead, church members often end up wearing themselves out in preparation and performance of ineffective "ministries".  We don't have time for personal or corporate worship -- much less relational discipleship -- because we are too busy trying to accomplish things that don't matter.  Quite possibly, this is a brilliant scheme that the Enemy of God uses to assure Christians remain both distracted and ineffective in outreach.  

The model for church growth is the book of Acts, where we see people encountering and embracing the Gospel in their every-day routines: at work, in travel, in places of worship, in homes. There is no mention of "relevant" lead-ins or productions (with the possible exception of sermons given in public gatherings at Pentecost or in the Areopagus, which seem pretty far removed from "Trunk or Treat").  

Bottom line: what could be more relevant than the Gospel, a message that changes every aspect of our lives?  Unless, of course, it hasn't.  And in that case, we should be holding prayer meetings to encounter God and be changed, rather than trying to drum up business and converts according to secular models.  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Giving through Christian Health Service Corps

We are now Christian Health Service Corps missionaries. We’ve had people ask about the best ways to support us, which we will list below. Thank you for considering joining us on this mission!  If you have any questions we would love to hear from you. By Check Make payable to:              Christian Health Service Corps or CHSC Memo line:                             Project Number #176/Helm Mail to:                       Christian Health Service Corps PO Box 132 Fruitvale, TX 75127   Via Bill Pay Set up an automatic Bill Pay instruction through your bank/financial institution with donations mailed to the address above, giving your “ Project Number 176/Helm ” as the account number.   Via CHSC’s Website – for credit card donations Donate online at: _ https://www.healthservicecorps.org/author/helm/ (Please note when donating online that the Recurring Frequency default is monthly .   Use the drop down box to choose your preference.    Also, when donating online,

If You Give a Perfectionist a Choice (and Other Reflections on Parenting)

  Ethan took the three older kids to a tiny-pandemic-birthday-party-in-a-big-space this afternoon. This is the first time the kids have left our apartment complex since mid-February, aside from visiting their brother in the hospital and attending a required interview at the Embassy. They were pumped. Like composing a tune and rocking out on the futon and/or sitting near the door with socks and bugspray on ready to go (personality-dependent division). The relative silence of the past hour turned me into Superwoman. I’m listening to classical music while eating baked oatmeal and writing a blog I had time to think about during my uninterrupted workout. Our baby is sleeping in front of our industrial-sized fan. The 90 degree-heat and unmentionable humidity can’t hold me back. I remember watching mothers of more than one child in utter amazement as a first-time mom just eight years ago. Did they have extra arms? Extra hours in their days? How did they do it? In the hospital last month

Making a List and Checking it Twice (Choose Joy)

  Some of the best advice I heard about moving is to focus on what is good about where you are. This is solid counsel, and applicable to both temporal and geographic contentment. The pandemic provides endless opportunities for discontent, particularly comparison to how things used to be. But perspective is powerful.   I could think about snow, which reminds me that Summer is by far my least favorite season (especially in pregnancy), we don’t have a yard/lawn/parks, and the kids have been stuck inside for months (and now can’t go three minutes without fighting). We can’t bake Christmas cookies because we made the difficult but correct decision not to have an oven in our 90 degree kitchen. Our kids miss soccer, gym class, running, and having friends. And if my thoughts go in that direction, my jaw tenses up and frustration mounts.  Or I could think about how we have everything we need and so many things we want. A huge fan blowing. Christmas music streaming on internet better than we oft