Saturday, January 19, 2019

When Is a Church Not an Actual Church?

Cardinals and a snowy window

Linda and I are reading, together, Francis Chan's Letters to the Church. There is much in it we that we find compelling.

It is possible, Chan argues, for a church to not be a church. Here's something we read yesterday, from his book.

"If Muslims were advertising free doughnuts and a raffle for a free iPad as a means to get people to their events, I would find that ridiculous. It would be proof to me that their god does not answer prayer. 
If they needed rock concerts and funny speakers to draw crowds, I would see them as desperate and their god as cheap and weak. 
Understand that I am not judging any church that works hard at getting people through the doors with good motives. I spent years doing the same thing, and I believe my heart was sincere. I wanted people to hear the gospel by any means possible. Praise God for people who have a heart for truth! 
I’m just asking you to consider how this looks to a watching world. 
While our good intentions may have gotten some people in the door, they also may have caused a whole generation to have a lower view of our God. 
It is hard for the average person to reconcile why a group of people supposedly filled with God’s Spirit, able to speak with the Creator of the universe, would need gimmicks.

(Chan, Letters to the Church, pp. 95-96)

Then Chan asks, rhetorically:  

"Is there ever a point when a church is no longer a church?...  Just because you walk into a building with the word Church painted on a sign doesn’t mean God sees it as an actual church." (Ib., 96)

***
My two books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 years of Solitary Conversations with God

Leading the Presence-Driven Church