Does the church need a facelift? Is it time for a new paradigm more acceptable to our times? Some believe the church has become irrelevant, outdated; therefore, change is necessary if the church is to survive.
What is the church? It is a called-out assembly of believers in Jesus Christ. It is an institution of God’s making and design. As an institution established by God, it is not for man to decide what it should be and how it should function.
Far too many have substituted their own ideas for God’s plan and purpose for the church thinking they can improve upon God’s model. Man has foolishly jumped off this cliff repeatedly. Cain had his own idea of a proper sacrifice. Aaron offered the golden calf as a substitute; Jeroboam set up an alternative to God’s plan when the northern tribes of Israel seceded from the southern. All of these deviations from God’s plan and many others failed with disastrous consequences.
An old axiom states, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Those in church leadership have lost touch with God and his plan for the church. God has given the qualifications for church leadership in 1 Timothy (3:1-12) and Titus (1:6-9.) Many today balk at some of these qualifications and have taken upon themselves to improve and update them. The responsibility of a bishop (pastor) is to “preach the word,” (2 Timothy 4:2); to “feed the flock,” (1 Peter 5:2); “hold fast the faithful word” (Titus 1:9). Yet many today rely more on philosophy and the words of men than the eternal words of the living God.
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The Apostle Paul said, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). It is the leadership’s responsibility to faithfully proclaim and teach God’s word, affirming and executing God’s plan, not undermining it.
Many are more interested in finding a church that gives them what they want than a church that is fulfilling what God established. Our first priority should be to seek what pleases God, (Revelations 4:11). Seeking to glorify God should be the primary motive in all we do (1 Corinthians 1:31, 10:31). The church was established to nurture and build the saints, train them and minister to them (Ephesians 4:11-16). Far too many place the emphasis on empty ceremony, fundraisers, assorted activities and entertainment.
Rather than seeking to adapt the church to these godless times by relying on the latest innovative programs, new interpretations, sensational methods and entertainment, (described in Ephesians 4:17-18 as walking in the vanity of one’s mind, the understanding darkened, alienated from the life of God through ignorance because of blindness of heart) we should remain faithful to the pattern God has given; the simplicity which is in Christ; faithfully proclaiming the truth found in God’s Word, “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” John (8:32). We are to rely upon Jesus Christ to build his church, (Matthew 16:18).
The change that is needed is in the hearts of men, to return to the Bible as our authority and to faithfully follow God’s plan.
Kenneth Codner is pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Spring Mills. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.