In overview of what a local church does or getting the right church focus, because at times we need to “take a step back,” and look at the bigger picture and keep a focus on that.
Our Problems versus our Purpose
The point is not that we have problems, but that we have a purpose, and that purpose must be fulfilled. Getting the right church focus is what is important here. The purpose of a local church is to do the work of God, and to do it effectively. This work of God has to be defined NOT as the continued existence of that particular local church, but that of God bringing sinners to salvation, and disciplining them into mature, fruitful Christians who are not entangled in sin, but live in holiness.
So the problem comes in most forcefully when a particular problem becomes “so large” to the pastor or the congregation, that they miss the greater picture (doing God’s work) and microfocus on their particular problem (which has to be done, but not out of context). Here I think that the point of getting the right church focus is that we forget what our particular needs and wants are (as servants should do), and we focus on correctly and efficiently doing God’s work even though we suffer in the process of fulfilling our purpose. For example, the pastor has an illicit affair. Many times the church loves the pastor, and they ask him to stay on (forgiving him). While that is warm and cuddlely, it is not doing God’s work. A tainted man of God will not do the work of God correctly. The testimony outwardly and inwardly cannot be maintained if you ignore what he did. We need to forget about the microscopic part of this, a single person and his problem(s), and look at God’s work, and what is best for accomplishing God’s work. Let him go and find another. What will be the impact on the work of God that is done through that particular church? What is right church focus and how are we accomplishing that purpose and focus.
See my tract, CH42 Destitution of a Pastor
Getting the “Push towards the Goal” Right
I think that so many churches I visit as a missionary just have lost total sight of their purpose and goal as a church, and have gotten a microscopic mindset, and they cannot get out of it. A pastor must be in the group, but with his head “out of the group”, sort of speak. By this I mean that he must forget about the particulars of his church to see the church’s God given purpose and goal. We are here for some purpose other than ourselves.
That purpose is to reach the lost with the message of salvation, to collect the saints in union in that local church and edify them into Godly saints that do the work of the ministry.
Love, loving, and distraction
Love is a great thing. Woe to the person who lives life without experiencing love from a multitude of people, parents, spouse, children, friends, etc. But let’s get things straight. While love to one another (our Christian brethren) is ontrack as something we must do, there is a great distraction in not doing the essential things excusing yourself in having “loved”. This is like a mother that gives a kiss on the head of each of her children every morning and sending them to school without giving them breakfast. That is not real love, it is laziness, and essentially it is lost or confused vision as to what role the mother should take in relationship with her children. Note: Schools now serve breakfast because students do better on a full stomach rather than an empty one. Okay, moms don’t prepare breakfast anymore for their kids on a wholescale basis.
Many churches have abandoned the true Gospel of Jesus Christ (dying on the cross for sins) to focus on a false social “do good” gospel. In this they put their energy, time, resources, focus, and attention on doing good while ignoring the higher priority of actually giving the gospel verbally, clearly, and with unction. Why are people so confused today in their religious beliefs? Because they see Christians who have no gospel. The gospel is the first thing you give, and it is the most important essential thing you insist on. If a church insists on social issues, then that is its gospel, not what Paul, Peter, and John believed and insisted on.
Getting the right Church Focus
Actually, this is very easy, and at the same time, it is very hard. We are to present the Gospel to the unsaved, and we are not to get distracted into other things. While many will say this is short sighted or narrow-minded, actually it is not. This is why we are here, to be the means at God’s hands to get others into heaven.
On one hand, it is simple to do. But note that while the Gospel offer should be a regular element of your church services, that is not enough. It needs to be woven into the messages and classes, and especially made into uncomplicated presentations for younger kids and teens. But even this is not enough. There must be a regular, full push of the entire church to present the gospel message to the unsaved where they are. This means, going out away from the church to present the gospel to the unsaved. Remember, the most powerful thing on first presentation, the most insistent thing is your gospel. While “love” should be shown, it is unloving in extreme to have the remedy (the gospel) of a fatal disease (sin), and the ability to give it away freely, and you don’t.
While there is nothing wrong with having a church social where everybody has fellowship, it should not be the major push of the church. In other words it should not “take over things” as far as the major emphases, major expense of resources, etc. The resources of any church are limited, and the majority of its resources should be spent on its mission. That mission is to get souls to glory, and the discipleship after a conversion is as much a part of it as street evangelism. But it would seem criminal to spend the majority of resources on creature comforts for those who come and sit every Sunday and never worry about the lost.
Distractions of time, money, emphasis, energy, personnel, resources, etc. need to be identified, and things need to be refocused towards our true mission. When thoughts and thought processes tend away from our mission, we need to abandon them. For example, Calvinism typically guts the gospel completely. We are elect or not, and therefore there should be (or there doesn’t need to be) any effort spent on evangelism. Even prayer and missions are also corrupted to fit the Calvinistic mindset of salvation being without man’s participation. These kinds of mindsets need to be revealed for what they are, sin, unbiblical, not God’s will.
Too much of a good thing
I cannot finish this blog without touching on the Hyles-Anderson (Jack Hyles) style of churches. Frankly this is just wrong from beginning to end. First of all, their gospel has been corrupted “in order to make it easier for more people to accept Christ”. The Gospel cannot be changed, and sin and repentance are as much a part of it as anything other part. If a person does not experience remorse and a desire for abandonment of his sin before praying the sinner’s prayer, he is not saved. This requirement must be presented forcefully.
Moreover, a “soul-winning church” in the style of Jack Hyles is just wrong. Since when are we allowed to abandon the rest of God’s commandment (i.e. discipleship)? A good training in the Bible will always have a lot of “push” towards salvation, but these Hyles people are barely aware of sound doctrine and they cannot debate and refute the cults and false doctrines, and really they labor long at even identifying what is different between them and the cults. Sound doctrine produces piety, and this is where the moral strength comes from in order to witness. Without holiness in the soul winner’s personal life, there is no work of the Holy Spirit in his witnessing, it is all done in man’s strength.
Our main goal as individuals should be to receive Christ, both as our Saviour and also as our moral pattern of life. This “reception” of Christ is what pleases God and this is holiness, sanctification. There is not an effective, correct God-pleasing evangelism that ignores the holiness-piety aspect of that salvation. This has to be lived “live” in the ministers and church members that evangelize and lead that local church.