6 Things Today’s Church is Losing

6 Things Today's Church is LosingIf you know me, you know that I am not a fan of articles or blog posts that berate the Church and point out all of her flaws. Sometimes, as I am reading these writings from well known authors, it breaks my heart that the bulk of their time on earth has been spent associating themselves with a movement that they can’t help but belittle on a regualr basis. I have never understood it really. From time to time, I think there are people who want to just sell books or get the attention of nonbelievers and pull the whole “bait and switch” when they get them to agree. I suppose some could even accuse me of doing that same thing right now, but know that is not my intention.

The Church as God describes it in His scriptures is meant to be the bride of Christ. This title implies union. I can imagine that any time Christian’s with good intentions slander His bride, there is some heartbreak. So, that is one way to look  at the waves of negativity. It is wrong and if we are a cross-oriented people then one would think grace would season our talk. There are times, however, the body of Christ needs to huddle up and regroup. There are also times where we need to hear a challenging word and be moved to action. Not in a condescending way, but one that desires growth and stronger unity. The Bible is full of times where God needed to redirect and rebuke His own people. In fact, the Bible practically ends that way with the first third of the book of Revelation seeking to sternly guide the people of God. With that being said, as I look around and see the condition of His bride in current times, I have seen some things I think are becoming endangered in our Christian culture.

Here are 6 Things Today’s Church is Losing:

1. Desperation for the Gospel

I can’t help but think of the early church. The people were enamored by this new revelation. So much so, that they were willing to risk their lives simply to believe and proclaim. Certainly, there were plenty of times early Christians sinned against God, but the newness of the Gospel message swept them away. What about underdeveloped countries? We are hearing stories on a regular basis from missionaries all around the world giving testimonies of lives changed and churches planted, simply because the message of the cross was shared. Today, many people look at their faith as a hobby and the act of community worship as something they do when they have nothing else to do. Or even, something that fits well into their lives when everything is going well. Is this what Christ died for? The people, yes…but the apathetic attitude toward His body? I wonder if we have mentally conditioned ourselves to always look for the more exciting experience. Not sure what the answer is here. I think we need to pray for a huge awakening on this one.

2. Centrality of God’s work

Many people today can and do live a life full of busyness, good health, and plenty of money without God. They do great things, influence people, and leave powerful legacies without their Creator ever being acknowledged. This is because it is a very tempting idea to surround ourselves with security, resources, and knowledge so that the idea of God becomes unnecessary. Christians reading this blog today may think that I am describing sinners or people who do not believe in God, but I am actually describing Christ-followers. Unfortunately, for Christians, it is easy to lean toward a life that calls comfort “blessing” and the good that we do becomes the full expression of God’s word. Certainly, God wants us to be moved to action, but He also wants us to be moved to change and grow. His life and power will give us abundance. Not just temporal success.

3. Conflict Resolution

I will mention the early church again here, because it is pertinent. The fact is, back in the infancy of the Church, people did not leave their worship community because of hurt feelings, different political beliefs, music, preaching quality, lack of programming, stale communion wafers, uncomfortable seats, lack of air conditioning, not getting the part in the play, what someone commented on Facebook, the fact that the organ was moved two feet to the left, or the color of the carpet. People had the spirit in common and settled their conflict by arguing, finding common ground, and focusing on the mission once again. We have lost the art of healthy conflict resolution because we have taught ourselves that running away is better than growing. Let’s just grow up already. This doesn’t just involve church attendance but every edifying relationship.

4. A Hunger to be Less

No matter how humble we are as a body of believers, it is hard to resist making ourselves look great by displaying our spiritual wealth. We want to be the best Christian, going to the best church, reading the best books, and adhearing to the best doctrine…not so we can grow deeper, but so we can know and experience more than the next person. Christ calls us to a cross-like existence that compells us to abandon this mentality. The point of Christianity is to be the lowest, the servant, and those that wake up every morning hoping to die to self. In the immortal words of John the Baptist, “He must increase and I must decrease…” Enough said.

5. Prophetic Voice

The Church, in today’s culture, seems to want to have a voice of political power instead of prophecy. No, not the soothsaying definition that we are familiar with through fairy tales, but prophecy in the respect of God’s conveyed truth. The Church is meant to exist independent from the culture, understanding the culture, and speaking to the culture, not camouflaging itself within it waiting for the right moment to strike. Fellow believers…we live a life that is weird and doesn’t make much sense, and that is okay. This is nothing to apologize for, and nothing to run from. It is okay to be active in politics, and influential in business, but our goal should be to show others the nature of God through our lives.

6. Unity In the Body

There may be several congregations throughout the world but there is only one Church. Whatever your particular congregational brand may be, remember that our mission is shared and it will take all of us to fulfill it. I am so tired of people talking poorly about other communities of believers. Sure, we may not agree with their doctrinal slant, but even if they are driving people to Hell through their teachings, our treatment of them, and talk about them could drive the outsider looking in to Hell even faster. Just stop it. Pursue God and display love for Christ sake (see what I did there?). Preach the truth. Period. Healthy worship to God will draw people towards Him.

We are meant to make disciples, spread the gospel, and serve the world by the resourcing of the Spirit. Just do that. Let’s stick to the things that matter.

Don’t forget you are loved.

-Landon DeCrastos

Advertisements

Mass Marketing

It happens to all
when going for a drive
we get distracted by marketing
Meant to make businesses thrive

They are seen when our eyes wander
when we are not looking ahead
They try to sell us goods
expecting us to believe what we just read.

Some are for public service
warning us to stay on track
to keep our lives together
giving us information we may lack

Others may be rather crude
selling things we dare not buy
for fear of a tarnished reputation
with messages so sly

I am interested in a message of hope
one that will take away my pain
not another gadget
to flush my money down the drain

There was one billboard I heard about
displayed back in ancient times
One that advertised love
through a man paying for his crimes

The odd thing about this ad
was he didn’t do anything wrong
But this marketing piece
seemed to sing a different song

The one on display was called a fake
for the whole world to see
shown on the side of the road
humiliated publicly

I still can’t help but think
there was something good about this guy
The one they called Jesus
With compassion in His eye

I hear he came for joy
and to set the captive free
a billboard painted in blood
a marketing piece meant for me.

-Landon DeCrastos

Do it anyway

Your life is falling apart…trust anyway

You’re tired and scared…love anyway

Things are not going your way…believe anyway

You’re not sure how things will work out…give anyway

You’re discouraged and angry…minister anyway

You’re in pain and feel used…forgive anyway

You feel as if you are not worthy…show compassion anyway

You have so many excuses…surrender anyway

You feel dead inside…choose life anyway

You simply don’t feel like it…worship anyway

You are tempted and tried…grow anyway

The enemy is attacking…be bold anyway

   With God as our resource, we can do all things. Don’t forget that…

-Landon DeCrastos

Friday Update Email List

Good Morning Friends,

I wanted to personally invite you all to my Friday Update email newsletter. This newletter will keep you up to date with things going on in the life of my family, and the church that I pastor. Usually, I give an update every other Friday, and the content of this email is more personal in nature. I appreciate all of you, and I think you for the support you have given me! There is a new email update coming out today. Sign up now!

Click here to sign up!

Here I am (Monday Musings)

monday

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 

Isaiah 6:1-8 brings up questions that are hard to avoid. First, what about this vision created a desire in Isaiah’s heart to serve God no matter what the circumstance? Next, what kind of resources was God going to supply Isaiah to accomplish this task?

Isaiah was commissioned to go to the people of Israel and preach a message of coming destruction and the hope and deliverance found through repentance. In a time when idolatry was rampant, and people began to forget about God’s faithfulness, this people group became content with the way things were. A captivity defined by self reliance and purposeless living.

Isaiah had a close relationship with God, and heard from Him regularly. He was not perfect, but God set him aside for a special purpose…to lead the children of God back to Him.

This passage shows us that God gave Isaiah the awesome opportunity to pull back the spiritual curtain and get a glimpse of the business of Heaven. Part of the business of Heaven is what happened to Isaiah…he was forgiven and purified of sin. His repentence and recognition of his depravity led to n authentic transformation. This transformation changed him so drastically that his passion for God to transformed others naturally followed.

What did God give Isaiah to accomplish this task? He gave His servant direct access to Him at all times. God gave Him a dynamic relationship that fanned the flame of love and compassion for his people. We have this same resource available to us.

If you have been changed by God, what does that transformation mean for you? Is it simply a ticket into an elite group of believers? Or, is it the fuel and animates the engine of service. We will please God if our Christian living is resourced by our relationship with the Creator. Do you have the courage to be open to God’s leading no matter the possible outcome?

Keep loving. Keep living. Keep growing.

-Landon DeCrastos

Don’t Stop Believin’…then again….

In the realm of Christianity, there is a word that is thrown around which has the potential of confusing those who hear it. It is one of those words that we say but never think about. Also, the perception of the Christian movement by those outside of it is that the entire goal of the religion is the transfer the meaning of this word to everyone on Earth. This word is “belief” (and its variations).

When I am telling a true story of great importance, and I want to convey a certain feeling or theme of the story; I desire that people believe what I am telling them. The point of conveying the truth of a narrative is to bring about belief in what the truth holds. If someone believes what I am telling them, then I have established a level of credibility or agreement with that person. This concept is what we typically think about when we throw around the word “belief”.

So, when I am calling on someone who does not “believe” in God to somehow “believe” in God…this act can become confusing because the recipient of this information often struggles to find the point. Why would it make any difference that someone simply agrees with what I am saying? If “belief” has an eternal implication, can it simply be turned on and off by answering a question in a positive or negative fashion?

The problem exists because, as Christians, we are using the same word for a completely different meaning. When we use the word “belief”, we are not talking about telling a story and hoping others nod their heads to express credible reception of the information. Belief, when talking about a life of faith, means that the direction of a person’s life has been re-calibrated  Yes, we may agree with the main facts presented in the Christian system of faith, but there is more emphasis placed on the re-purposing of life than there is behind the traditional definition of “believing a story”.

When people see violence, hatred, and prejudice in the name of faith, they are actually not seeing the results of belief, but the human take over a vague idea. So, in essence, some who say they “believe” do not actually display proof of it.

We need to stop using the word “belief”, and instead use the word “release”. Released to show the world the origin of true joy.

-Landon DeCrastos