I am in the eye of the hurricane. Everything I do, every day is in some way related to a form of Christian ministry. I work as a high school pastor, my wife and I are in seminary (where she also works) and I’m constantly collaborating and cooperating with ministers and ministries thought my home area of Orange County. The Kingdom of God seems to be in a constant,rhythmic motion around us but there is one thing that seems hellbent on stymying its growth: the church.
Once the term church was synonymous with Gods Kingdom. Acts shows us that the people of this church cared for each other with a fierce love. Everyone had equivalent wealth, an equivalent voice, and a shared investment into the causes of Christ. The elderly cared about the youth and spent time with them. The outreach consisted of everyone daily going to the poor and feeding them. Each member of the church poured themselves out in humility so that the Kingdom could prosper and reach further.
But not any longer. Trappings of the true church can be found within the facsimile that exists today but they are quickly being pruned away. Resources now go toward sterile buildings instead of living communities. Red tape has bound the movement of the holy spirit, forcing it to our will lest we reject it all together. Dogmatic tradition has blinded us from the true injustices of society; demanding that we obey it rather than put our energy toward actually serving the worlds needs. And worst of all, our arrogance has kept us from ever admitting that this is true.
Culture at large has tried to cordially assist the church of today by explaining its irrelevance. Yet instead of listening to the needs of the world it should be saving; instead of looking to the foundation of our institution as it was developed by the Holy Spirit; instead of actually being part of the Kingdom of God, the church has stuck its head in the sand. We insist that we need our red tape, dogma, and empty buildings to operate and those be damned who think otherwise. If culture thinks the church is irrelevant than it must be wrong because clearly were doing everything right. The numbers are down cause of culture, our ministries suffer cause of the economy; there always seems to be an excuse that allows the church to escape true self reflection.
But, we don’t need to be this way. The church must stop being so complacent with the ills that exist within itself. When ministries are blossoming we must resource them. When people are hurting we must help them. When the spirit is moving we must be willing to throw our red tape and antiquated procedures to the wind. If we don’t then we are failing God. We have been given a heavy charge to help save a world that is lost and broken. But if we ever hope to take part in this transformative justice then we must become something else. We must become the church we once were. Because as it is now, the church is not the church.