Monday, January 12, 2009

...and how not to be one

Will The Real Church... Please Stand Up?

The following excerpt is taken from an excellent book by Glen Wagner entitled,The Church You’ve Always Wanted (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), p. 29-31.

Read it and enjoy and while you're at it, go out and buy this book for your pastor...he will rise up and call you blessed.

· The Church of Networking—Make contacts to expand your business.

· The Church of the Significant Other—Find that special someone. Hey, it’s better than a singles bar.

· The Church of Social Service and Need Fulfillment—No need is too great or too small.

· The Church of Heavenly Investment with Earthly Dividends—For the amount of money I contribute, I expect a significant return.

· The Country Club Church—Gather to celebrate that you can gather together and that others can’t…at least, not with you. Caters to the right kind of people. Long-term members get the best tables and the best parking spots.

· The Church of Heavenly Fun and Sanctified Pleasure—Keep me and my kids occupied so they don’t get into trouble. If you can’t fill my nights and weekends with fun and excitement, then I’ll have to take my business/membership elsewhere.

· The Church of the Grand Stadium-Watch the gladiators of God do battle with the team of evil.

· The Church of the Self-service, Spiritual Garage—Gives a periodic oil change (or anointing).

· The Church of the Fast-food Restaurant—Get what you need, quick, easy, cheap. Just enough to sustain you for another week.

· The Church of the Celestial Savings and Loan—Stop by and make a few deposits, because you never know when you’ll need to make a withdrawal.

· The Church of the Diving Resort- Come here and be catered to. Others will do you bidding and pamper you.

· The Church of Hellfire—Turn or burn, shake or bake, deny or fry. Others are going to hell…and aren’t you glad?

· The Church of the Citadel—It is a fortress on a hill. Builds buildings, starts programs, and concentrates its efforts within its walls. If it doesn’t happen on this property, it must not be of God.

· The Church of the Mega Mall—Has what the other churches don’t—and, quite frankly, does it a whole lot better. Whatever you need, it has it, tailored and fit to your specifications. Bring the whole family—it’s you one-stop shopping center. If you can’t find it, the church will create if for you, since its job is to keep you happy in Jesus’ name. It won’t threaten you, guilt you, worry you, or overburden you. It wants your time here to be enjoyable, so that you’ll come back and do business again.

· The Church of Evangelistic Fervor—All activities during the week and on Sunday mornings lead up to one exciting moment; the altar call. Get ‘em to the front and get ‘em saved.

· The Church of Sanctified Information—Pours out a stream of biblical material. The people eagerly fill their notebooks; the one will the fullest notebook and the fullest head gets the title “Most Spiritual.”

· The Church of the Latest (and Largest) Program—Presents one extravaganza after another: musicians, preachers, concerts, dramas. The one with the newest, most expensive, and largest attendance wins.

· The Church of Holy Tradition—A museum of and for the saints. The people gather to dust off old relics and be touched by the sacrifices of the past. Nostalgia is everything. Worship amounts to warm feeling about God.

· The Church, Inc.—An organization run like a small business or large corporation, depending on its size. The CEO sets the direction and has little contact with the rank and file. Buy into the vision, baby!”


4given said...

I am laughing so hard I'm crying...
THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

Mike Ratliff said...

It's very funny, yet very tragic as well...

Puritan Belief said...

And of course the bible does its bit to expose these churches. Revelations 2 & 3

Ephesus: Left thy first love
Smyrna: Say they are Jews but are not
Pergamos: hold the doctrine of Balaam
Thyatira: suffer that woman Jezebel which calleth herself a prophetess
Sardis: has a name that says you are alive but are dead inside
Philadelphia: say they are Jews but are not
Laodicea: neither cold nor hot

Isn't it wonderful how even amongst these orgainisations which men call church Jesus saves those who are his and calls them into his true church the church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.

4given said...

Okay Mike... you ALMOST spoiled my laughter. Yes, it is tragic. But... okay.... THE CHURCH OF THE HELLFIRE is just too funny... along with so many others.

The Clinging Vine said...

What's scary is how often I mentally thought of a particular church as I read down the list. =8^o

4Given's right, is funny.

In a "watching someone take a pratfall" kind of way. ;^)

donsands said...

Looks like a good book to have. I think I will buy one for my pastor.

It's humor with a point. I like it.

Susan said...

I'll never forget the pastor of a church when my husband and I were relatively new to faith and were church shopping. One Southern Baptist church with a new preacher (Brother Johnny) was the church we were strongly considering, mostly cuz it's morning adult Bible studies (aka Sunday School) were quite good.
I noticed the pastor had a red dot on his glasses, and it was obviously stuck on there for a reason. I figured it best not to ask.
I practically melted in embarrassment one Sunday morning when, in total innocence in the foyer as folks were filing past, my husband remarked to Brother Johnny, "You have a dot on your glasses. Any reason?"
Brother Johnny grabbed my husband's shoulders and practically shouted at him, "It's the BLOOD of JESUS! Do you KNOW JESUS???"
(If you didn't, would you want to say so to this man?)
We both meekly nodded a yes and crawled away, never to return there again. Thankfully, God had a better church home for us.

Mike Ratliff said...

Sorry Lisa :)

Michele Rayburn said...

There are some things on this list that I don’t fully agree with. And the things that I do agree with make me ask "What is the solution?" So, here are some of my thoughts on what essentially is "the state of the church" (It's going to take 3 posts....just to make it fair!):

1. The Church of Networking: Of course, if that’s the sole purpose for going to church, that is bad. But, I wouldn’t want to be legalistic and say it is a sin to exchange business cards in order to do business with believers. Hopefully, there is enough fellowship in that church that would allow such an exchange, because that would be wise.

2. The Church of the Significant Other: If this is the sole purpose for going to church, the relationship probably won’t work out anyway! But if you (the author) are suggesting that Christians meet other Christians somewhere else, I think you are missing the point of fellowship. I would think it would include meeting your future spouse. Otherwise, where would you suggest that they meet—the grocery store? Hopefully, not the bar. I feel sorry for Christian kids, if they are going to be mocked for going to church or college because it might be assumed that they are going there to meet their future mate. The important thing is that if their heart is right with God, then it isn’t wrong.

3. The Church of Social Service and Need Fulfillment: This almost seems to suggest that we should not want to meet the needs of the poor, or those out of work, and/or those losing their house, etc. I’m not sure what church the author is thinking of here, because I hardly know of a church that makes the needs of it’s church members a priority, or is capable of meeting those needs even if they wanted to.

4. The Church of Heavenly Investment with Earthly Dividends: It seems like a desperate cry for help when Christians seek God through material gain, since the spiritual life in that church doesn't exist, and is being counterfeited. The need for spirituality turns into greed, because they are being misled by lying Prophets.

5. The Country Club: If it's an unspiritual gathering of "believers", then that is bad. Unspiritual churches attract unspiritual people.

6. The Church of Heavenly Fun and Sanctified Pleasure: Does that mean believers shouldn't enjoy and look forward to fellowship with one another? Isn’t church life more than just a sermon, a song, and a prayer? If having fellowship is wrong, I don't want to be right!

7. The Church of the Grand Stadium: If you mean churches like Benny Hinn’s, I agree that they are bad.

Michele Rayburn said...

8. The Church of the Self-Service, Spiritual Garage: Again, if it’s about phony gifts of the Spirit, I agree that they are bad.

9. The Church of the Fast Food Restaurant: If you mean that one hour on Sunday isn’t enough, I agree. There’s more to church life than a quick sermon, a song, and a prayer—it’s called fellowship, having all things in common, bearing one another’s burdens, etc. And if it is a Christ-centered sermon that really feeds the sheep, I don’t think they will be looking at their watches.

10. The Church of the Celestial Savings and Loan: I don't know of a church like that, but I suppose some "Christians" have that mentality.

11. The Church of the Diving Resort: Some are servants and others sometimes need to be served before they can become servants. The alternative is to be proud and selfish and to say "No, I won’t serve you, you selfish, lazy sheep!" It’s partly the leadership’s fault if the sheep remain selfish and lazy.

12. The Church of Hellfire: "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…". I would like to see the sheep taught how to "walk by the Spirit", instead of being put on a guilt trip as if they were unbelievers deserving of justice who ought to fear Judgement Day.

13. The Church of the Citadel: These types of churches think they have all the truth. It's a cult-like mentality.

14. The Church of the Mega Mall: There’s nothing wrong with church life being enjoyable. If the joy is in serving the Lord, that is a good thing. If the joy is devoid of spiritual life, that is a bad thing. Again, it’s a matter of the heart.

If you wish we would go back to the "home church" as in the Book of Acts, I’m all for it. Although, I also enjoy corporate worship. And there was a time for that in the Book of Acts, also.

But remember, the reason we have these mega churches is because we put them there. Even the leadership can’t do that without the sheep giving them the money to do it. So, if you feel led to give money to your mega church, just designate it to go toward something other than the building fund. Have it go to missions, and the poor and needy.

If the building is too large to fellowship with one another, then it’s too large. Some large churches are able to accomplish this through home fellowship groups. So, the building in and of itself is not necessarily the problem. It’s the vision for that church. Is it a biblical assembly as the Lord would have wanted it? Or, are we still patterning ourselves after the Roman Catholic Church, with altar and pews and one hour of rituals?

If it is a biblical assembly, then praise the Lord that the people treasure their time together and believe that things are happening at their church. Just as long as they are not puffed up with pride about it.

Michele Rayburn said...

15. The Church of Evangelistic Fervor: I believe the church is for believers. And if unbelievers are present, they can and will be drawn to the Lord by hearing the Word taught. And the Pastor can talk to them after the service to help them know the way of salvation. I agree that altar calls are not what church is all about.

16. The Church of Sanctified Info: If the Pastor isn’t speaking to your heart, you’ll find yourself taking endless notes that you will probably never read anyway. If the Pastor has spent time in fellowship with the Lord and in prayer, his sermons will be spiritual and your heart will be changed.

17. The Church of the Latest (and Largest) Program: There’s nothing necessarily wrong with any of that. It just matters where your heart is. I wouldn’t want to see an end to our Christian concerts, conferences and conventions, unless they are unspiritual. You can usually tell when it's purely entertainment and devoid of Christ.

18. The Church of Holy Tradition: Once again, if you mean that some churches are patterned after the R.C.C. with rituals and/or pagan idolatry, I agree that this is not good. But, there’s nothing wrong with "warm feelings about God" just as long as those feelings come from worshiping Him "in Spirit and in truth".

19. The Church, Inc.: Yes, I agree that running the church like a business is bad! When the Pastor no longer has time for the sheep, the church has lost it’s vision, and it's reason for it's existence.

In summary, the author doesn’t like cold, dead, self-serving churches. And he doesn’t like unspiritual fellowship, too much fellowship, or too much fun. He doesn’t like too many programs, and he doesn’t like too short of a service. He doesn’t want to see unspiritual Christians in the church, and he doesn’t like legalistic churches, and he doesn’t like the TBN style of worship. He doesn’t like altar calls and he doesn’t like note taking. And he doesn’t want entertainment and he doesn’t want liturgy. He doesn’t want the church run like a business and he doesn’t want a cult. Having not read his book, I wonder what the author's dream church would be like.

Carpe Carpet :)
Having more fun than a blogger should be allowed to have....

4given said...

You had some good points Michele... but WOW! I think you have just won the award for writing the longest comments on any one post I have ever seen.

"Having not read his book, I wonder what the author's dream church would be like."
--- Heaven?

Michele Rayburn said...


LOL! Heaven? Don't get me started! I might write another 3 posts :)

This book, The Church You've Always Wanted, looks like it may be a good one, having read a description of it. So, I am planning on reading it.

BTW Lisa, I have been inspired by your Latin, which has led me to look at some websites to study it a bit. And it's been fun.

In spiritu et veritate,
(See what I mean? :)

4given said...

Beati pacifici, Michele.

Michele Rayburn said...

Huh? Oh! Et beati pauperes spiritu!

(Are we getting off subject?)

TSHusker said...

Good stuff! The state of the church today is certainly a matter of concern. I recently finished Pastor Gary E. Gilley's book, This Little Church Went to Market, and would commend it to your and your readers' consideration.


Doctrine Matters

Arthur Sido said...

A lot of this could be avoided if we would spend some time on really looking into the Word to see what the church is. It is not a place we go, it is not an organization we belong to, it is the Bride of Christ, the redeemed elect throughout the ages. Because we have focused on what the world tells us or what tradition tells us or what the latest “church growth” book tells us the church should look like, we don’t bother looking at what the Word tells us. Thus we have formalized, overly programmatic “churches” that focus on everything but what the assembled body of Christ should be focused on. We major in the minors and leave no room for the Gospel.

Bill said...

Really clever!

In a similar vein, are you going to comment on the NYT article concerning Total Depravity and Mark Driscoll? If you haven't seen it, it might be worth your while to review it and give us your thoughts.


Beethovensings said...

Some favorite hymns from these churches:

· The Church of Networking—Make contacts to expand your business. "Blessed Be the Networking that Binds"

· The Church of Heavenly Investment with Earthly Dividends -
"There Shall be Showers of Tax Deductions" and "Standing on the Profit-lines"

· The Church of Heavenly Fun and Sanctified Pleasure—Keep me and my kids occupied so they don’t get into trouble. - "A Charge to Keep Have You"

· The Church of the Diving Resort- Come here and be catered to - "Have Mine Own Way, Lord"

PuritanReformed said...


I guess the problem of the different "churches" is when they are used for that one purpose primarily. Church should be about Christ being the center of her existence, and we should be most interested in exalting Him instead of coming to church for the reason of doing all these things.

Anonymous said...

I think I have been to almost all of these churches.

SJ Camp said...

Me too! That's what makes this list so familiar to us all.

Oh for a recovery of biblical Christianity and biblical ecclessiology in today's evangelical world.

Frank said...

So, which one of these churches is yours? Or is it just other people who go these churches?

SJ Camp said...

I know that I have attended in the past a few churches that had elements of some of these listed. Again, I didn't write them, but found them thought-provoking and humorous because I think we all know of some churches that fit in part these descriptions.

As I pray for my pastors, my prayer is simple: may we be a church with leadership that is thoroughly biblical, charitable, and one that seeks to glorify God in all things.

Hope this helps.

Tak178 said...

Incredibly sad, and incredibly accurate.

I think I may have just found a lead in to my Bible study tomorrow.

Well done, Campi.