The Church Does Not Exist For You

Why is it that you go to church? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, I talked with someone from Ratio Christi about how we can reach our generation for Christ more. What was brought out was that we have more information than ever before, but the problem is the information isn’t being distributed. Most teachers and workers don’t really get to go out into the trenches as much and just do regular evangelism. Why is that?

My thinking on this is that we have too many people in Christianity today who think that the church exists for them. The church is where they go and get their regular spiritual fill-up. They get to hear a good concert, which is more often about getting their emotions to a high, and then get to hear a talk about how they can have better lives by being a Christian and how God loves them and all of it is about them.

How does this work with evangelism? Simple. You are supposed to bring your friend to church and the pastor is supposed to say the magic words to get them to come down the aisle and accept Christ. Never a thought of “We need to equip you so you can do evangelism on your own.” Instead, you just bring them to the pastor and the pastor does your work for you.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t invite people to church. Of course you should. I am saying your work is not just to bring people to church and then keep a seat in the sanctuary warm. You are also not meant to come to church just so you can feel good about yourself. Church is about coming to worship and give of yourself. We come to church more often to receive than to give.

As someone in ministry also, this is something that I know is a problem for many ministries. Since the church knows little about apologetics, apologetics ministries are hard to start. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t support other worthwhile ministries as the church needs more than apologetics, but it is to say that the church doesn’t know about this vital area of Christianity and sadly, their pastors aren’t introducing them to it.

Picture your average service. You go in and when the sermon starts, you hear a passage of Scripture read. You might get a little bit of the background story but then, it jumps straight to application. There is nothing about the historical setting from a greater perspective or about what the passage would have meant to the original audience. It’s all about “What does this mean to me?”

There are rarely questions about “What does this say about the nature of God?” aside from that He loves you. “What does this say about Jesus?” aside from of course, that He loves you. “What did this mean to the children of Israel?” (Why is that part even in the Bible? It’s not about us.) “How do we know that this really happened?”

Why do people not give then? Well they give their regular 10% and then that’s it. Nothing in their minds often about being a part of the greater church as a whole and the Kingdom of God. Nothing about that they might actually need to answer a question one day from someone. Nothing about they might need to do independent Bible study. It’s all about what’s in it for them.

Want a demonstration? Just picture what will happen if you have a movie night at the church where a movie can be shown for free. How many people will show up? Now picture a night where you have a great apologetics speaker coming into town and giving a free talk on the resurrection of Jesus. I can assure you turnout will be much less for that one. (With the exception of apologetics fans in the area who actually do come.)

I wish I knew more of what to do to help this. Sometimes, I do think it will take some persecution to get us to realize what we are here for. I also suspect many Christians will fall away at that point because, I mean, why should they be expected to sacrifice anything? That’s too uncomfortable.

Perhaps it will depend on the pastors since they are put in the position of having to do everything. The pastor can lay out the responsibility of the layman. He can encourage them to be able to be more self-sufficient in their Christian faith in that they can research themselves and ask the questions themselves. (Perhaps that would be a better investment of their time more often than binge watching Netflix.)

If a pastor is worried that he might lose some people, maybe he should. The people who really care the most are the ones who will stay behind and be willing to do the work. It would be better to have a small number who are faithful and ready to do the work than have a large number who are not. I believe the founder of Christianity had the same philosophy.

It is my hopes that we can be a church that teaches, gives, answers, and everything else we need to be doing. Once we understand the role of Christianity overall, we will be better equipped to fulfill our Christian mission. It will require that we move past the idea that the church is for us. We don’t come to church for us. We come for God.

In Christ,
Nick Peters