14 February 2015

Thoughts on the modern church

The modern church is floundering. It's losing people faster than it can replace them. It can't understand why it's being abandoned by older parishioners and why the younger generations won't even give it a second look. The church mistakenly believes that if it becomes more "relevant," i.e. looks more like the secular world, it will draw people to attend. 

Church leadership has been championing the destruction of the church in the name of saving the church for decades. One of the clearest examples of this is the so-called Worship Wars, which concerns contemporary praise music replacing traditional hymns. Those who are against this secularization of worship services are called Pharisees, implying that they care more about appearances and so-called legalistic rule-following than about the hearts of the worshipers. Praise music is authentic, according to its proponents.

And yet this simplistic, ego-driven music is the exact opposite of authentic. It's worldly corruption, pure and simple, and it is a direct appeal to the vain hearts and egos of those who claim to love it. Anyone who dares to point this out is to be silenced and shamed.

A good example of this comes from this recent post, Stop Blaming Your Lack Of Worship On Your Worship Leader. Stephen Altrogg

e writes that the complaints about modern praise songs are usually about these three things: it's too loud, it's too simple/repetitive, and I don't know the words. These are apparently not valid reasons to complain. Take his reasoning concerning the simplicity criticism:

One of the values of repetition and simplicity is that it allows us to grapple with truths in ways we can’t when we are moving quickly through multiple verses of substantial depth. We so easily forget eternal truths, and repetition and reminder drill God’s truth deeply into our hearts.

Our worship services should include songs with words like “bulwark” and “Ebenezer”, but they should also include simple, easily understandable songs.

The assumption that the best way to learn eternal truths is through simple and easily repeated songs is flawed, but this is where church leadership keeps getting confused about how to best serve their congregations. By simplifying and, in essence, dumbing-down doctrine to supposedly make it more accessible they are in fact alienating more people than they are drawing in.

The world is full of lowered expectations. Our culture celebrates immaturity and perpetual adolescence, and rewards the average above the exceptional. When our churches reflect the world's values back to us, why would we bother to go? The church should be a refuge and a refutation of the world, not an endorsement. And it should be expecting more from its members than simple recitations like "They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love."

If we are to call ourselves mature Christians, we need to act like mature Christians. We should expect more of ourselves and of our worship services. We should not expect to go to church to be entertained and made to feel good. Eternal truths are a weighty topic and they should be treated as such. If church is not appealing to some because they might have to dress more formally than usual or because they are uncomfortable in some way, then they are probably not going to church to worship any other god than a god of their own making, which is essentially the god of themselves.


  1. "The church should be a refuge and a refutation of the world, not an endorsement. And it should be expecting more from its members than simple recitations like 'They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love.'"

    Yes, especially when their definition of love comes not from the Bible, but from how the world defines love. So if you at all question their lifestyle and choices, they will say you are "full of hate" and "not loving", even though rebuking your neighbor for sin is the opposite of hate (Leviticus 19:17).

  2. Exactly! The average Christian's definition of love has nothing to do with the Biblical understanding of love or God.

    This willful misunderstanding of the nature of God is dangerous for a number of reasons. Mainly it leads people to create God in an image that they like and control, breaking the second commandment. This then leads them to sin more because they are using their own understanding of God and sin, not the Bible's, as the measure of right and wrong. These people can never see that they're sinning because in their minds they're not.