I know the western church has many idols, but I am frequently confronted by one which seems to be too easily and uncritically erected where Jesus belongs. That is the idol of church growth. When the bottom line of your church is growth, when your church exists primarily to grow (whether that is through church planting, multiple congregations, multi campuses or multiple services or just a really big auditorium) then it is inevitable that eventually you will find yourself doing what works to promote growth rather than what God is really asking you to do, and by that stage you wont even realise it.
Does the Body of Christ need to go on a diet?
The bottom line of any Christian church should be faithfulness to Jesus. Pastors and the people they lead need to get over the idea that they are here to do something or acheive something for God's benefit. God doesn't need you. The bottom line of church, the sine qua non of Christianity, is not to do something but to be what Christ has made us; is not to acheive something but to receive what Christ has given us. Our focus on technique and "leadership" takes us away from the source, for "neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow." Churches that are faithful to being and receiving will likely see growth, but when it happens they will know it is God's work and not their own and they will know that what is being built is a living temple and not a tower of babel that God will have to knock down at some point. Even if they don't see growth they have still fulfilled their purpose, "to declare the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his wonderful light."
The mighty Rhett Snell has picked up his blog again (I wonder how long he'll last this time), check out his theory on why people get so into annoyingly unbiblical end times nonsense.
I think that where codes-and-calendars end times theology is dangerous, is that it can give a sense of false growth. We read a theory online, or hear it from some bible teacher, and we come to think that we have mastered an area of our faith. A bit like levelling up in a computer game, or Popeye after he’s eaten some spinach. At worst, we begin to believe that we’ve taken a step that other Christians have not; that we’ve entered an elite class of Christianity.
I write in the morning after the USA 2016 Elections, which featured the historic election of Donald Trump. Apart from my personal interested as a resident of planet Earth at this time, it is interesting to note some of the apocalyptic language emerging in discussions of what this means. Even archaeologists are turning to the medium of prophecy. Hear the word of Tobias Stone,
So I feel it’s all inevitable. I don’t know what it will be, but we are entering a bad phase. It will be unpleasant for those living through it, maybe even will unravel into being hellish and beyond imagination. Humans will come out the other side, recover and move on.
Stone suggests that future historians will be able to draw clear lines from Brexit to Trump to the 3rd World War, or something equally bad. Mind you, just because historians can draw those lines doesn't mean they are here.
Then there is the word of Thom Hartman who is more interested in the domestic fallout than the fallout shelter.
The last …
One characteristic of human society is the tendency to keep doing something over and over again despite it not working. One example would be our approach to incarcerating criminals to punish them instead of rehabilitating them, compounding their trauma and making it harder for them to live productive law-abiding lives when they get out. But this is the "common-sense" approach, the intuitive human response to the failings of others, punish them and they wont dare do it again. It has never worked, ever, but let's keep doing it. Secular society is screwed because it cannot comprehend that its vision is blurred by sin and therefore knee-jerk, common sense solutions are usually destructive and counter-productive.
So it is with our response to suicide. To kill yourself must be the response of the weak minded and sick - so the thinking goes - so to combat rising suicide we treat individuals medically. Yet suicide is a perfectly rational response to a world as broken as ours and…