What's Wrong with the Church?

I tried to think for a while like a complaining emergent and this is what I came up with--What's Wrong With the Church.

Tuesday Column by Keith Drury


Matt Guthrie said...

Hi Keith,

If I read my crystal ball (and history) correct, I predict there will be a "What's Right with the Church" post around the corner. While we wait for that to come, I'll comment on the current post. As an older Gen Xer, I say "Amen", so much so that I even left the organizational church for a while, seeking its more purified and unencumbered form in a house church model. Of course, even the house church has its own downfalls. Since we could never build the community we want there either, we've moved back to the brick and mortar church. Once we get more acquainted with our new local body of Christ, I'm sure we'll discover it too has all the same problems.

Actually, I won't wait til you post on what's right. Right now, I'm excited enough to find a church that at least looks like it is battling all these wrongs that I have to say it does have some things right. And most importantly, THE CHURCH has everything right about it because it is the bride of Christ.

pk said...

Only nine things?! Kidding ;-)

Would you agree that this list leans primarily toward what's wrong with the evangelical church? (Which would make sense because that is the primary readership.) While there may be some overlap in places, my sense is that other Protestants would probably have a noticeably different list.

Chad McCallum said...

i am...

John Mark said...

The crying need in the Church today is for revival. Like Chad (and G. K.) I freely admit I may be, ultimately, what is wrong with the church, or at least the one I pastor. I long for 1) God anointed preaching, 2) conviction, honesty, confession and surrender among my people, 3) the courage to say yes to God in all things personally (we are all so afraid to fully trust), and for 4) a church where real people routinely give stories of real transformation and hunger for God. I think such a people will find their way as to how to live give their lives.
We will always need prophets, and people like you, or Colson, or Mohler, or McClaren or Dobson might all have something to say to us. But unless we are right with God it will make little difference.
We are, in some places, at least, doing better on compassionate concerns. But that is not our greatest need, our greatest need is to experience God coming in a way that both humbles and heals us. My personal prayer is that I am not a hindrance to this.


Your description is right on target. The list of "wrongs" is a list of symptoms. Underlying it is one basic problem. The church loses her way when she loses her focus on sin and redemption. All the things we measure, whether attendance, income, or charitable works are the result of accomplishing our mission, not the mission itself.
An old friend of mine used to say that he had no problem getting people saved, his problem was getting the to realize they were lost.
When we lose the concept of the exceeding sinfulness of sin we lose the consciousness of the need for redemption. That's why the "wrongs" happen.
The Church (The Body of Christ) is doing well. The question is whether I or my organization is a part of it. God help me to focus on the "Main Thing".
Thanks for making me think!

Heath said...

Hopefully, #10 won't be "our crazy youth pastor posted this list of what's wrong with the church all over the church. Hopefully, he will take it down before I come back at Easter."

Bradley said...

I agree. What more is there to say. Yes there is good things that are happening. But, I find to often that we color a rosy picture of how things are and not willing to admit we don't have it together. Thank you for this column.

Pastor Todd said...

Personally, the problem with the church seems to be I am willing to spend more time writing articles like this or reading articles like this than I am weeping over their truth. I seldom fast or pray over our spiritually destitute state.

Likely the sum total of hours spent by pastors watching CSI, 24, Survivor, and American Idol (feel free to fill in the blank as appropriate) is 10X the hours we will spend in prayer this winter.

God please forgive me.

-Todd Crofford
Pastor, the Wesleyan Church

Gary Collier said...

As a pastor of a 2-1/2 year old church I can testify that I focus on my little corner of the world more than anything else, because that's what God has entrusted to my care. I can't alter what another church does other than by our people setting a good example of humility and discipleship. I know this, though... there is **nothing** that brings more contentment, happiness and satisfaction internally than giving your all to God and "brightening the corner where YOU are!"

Albany, Ga.

AJD said...

I suspect that the most of the issues you've listed are artifacts of the first problem--a lack of discipleship. Returning to a Biblical model of teaching/equipping would eliminate the emphasis on attendance numbers as a measure of success and in the long term produce more impact, more mature Christians, and even greater numbers. Thanks for the post; it was very insightful.

Stuart said...

Did you happen to read the piece in Times Online, "As an Atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God".


Mr Parris, states that missionaires to Africa have brought more than money, more than another NGO with the unfortunate faith aspect.

He writes: "Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I've just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.

Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the know how that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted."

"And I'm afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete."

How does this fit with your #3 and #6?

Chuck said...

At some point we must address the issue of less than effective leadership...and I've got a problem with "It."

Matt Rampey said...

As someone born right in the middle of Gen-X (is anyone outside the Church even using that term anymore), I loved the column. It feeds my "Yeah! Everything sucks! Blow it all up!" bent. Pretty much agreed with everything you said.

Ahh, but then, like Chad, G.K., and John, I realize that I am what's wrong. My pride, arrogance, and unwillingness to show grace to those who don't show grace is what's wrong. If I don't believe and live out the Gospel, then how can I expect anyone else to do the same?

Matt Rampey

Grateful said...

While everyone curses the darkness, I'm headed for the matches... In 4 words, I will continue to BE LIGHT! GO SHINE!

Grateful said...

P.S. Thanks Keith for using the word "we" in your column. I am new to your column, just been reading you a few months. My Wesleyan friends in NC put me onto you. Your thoughts are always rivoting, even when they are raw. Which seems to be frequent. :-) I have pastored the same church for about 15 years. I share many of your columns with my long-time partner in ministry, our worship pastor. He's 10 years younger than me. I had him look at this particular column because we are still believing we might one day discover more truths needed to be ultimately spiriually successful as glocal church leaders. After reading the column, he asked me was there anything in your column that I agreed with. Of course, that was a trick question, as he always gives me the respect of testing the waters before launching into our discussion. I said, "sure I agree with some of it." Actually, I would never forward someone, especially a partner in ministry, an article this raw unless I agreed with much of the content. While many of the issues surely apply to us, no doubt, the issue here locally is that these are such massive indictments (observations) that I cannot begin to get my brain around them all and honestly, it is very discouraging and so I ask, "is there anything we're doing right?" You probably have that article somewhere in your archives. I will look. Anyway, thanks. On the way to get the matches, I'll get the band aids, too, and continue to seek God lest we as the church should continue to be nothing more than a curse to the whole world and a reproach to the God who loves us enough to call us His bride. Thanks for your honestly. I tend to be too optimistic as a ministry leader and a believer (convert), but then again, if i weren't I'd be like the 40% of clergy who leave the field in the first five years after the completion of their seminary training. Of course, I have no seminary training, so maybe I'm too naive to run for the mountains. -- kerry (grateful) and hello there Matthew Guthrie :-)

Keith Drury said...

GRATEFUL, Thanks for your thoughtful response...yes it is "raw" but that's about as raw as I could get trying to think like the younger folk." They can get far more raw than the above… and many consider my words above as "moderate." But like you say, I'm basically optimistic like most other boomers, and consider grumbling like this as “stinkin’ thinking.” However what if God has set aside an entire generation as prophets? If what they say is prophecy would we listen—or denounce them and reject their words. This is what I fear—Boomers might refuse to listen to whatever prophecy is from HIM through the emerging generations..that could double damn our souls. So I listen, and in this column I even tried to think like they might think.

However, I do like some of the boomer's contributions... .

Grateful said...

I'm with you, Keith. I've got my "ears wide open". Those leading alongside me are all ages, our pastors range from ages 25-55. I want what God wants more than I want anything. Pray for us. The worship pastor and I are already in healthy dialogue over your honestly written "wrongs" of the church. We don't want to resemble what's wrong, but in reality be a blessing to the young generations and to generations unborn... in Jesus' name. Still grateful. :-)

Pastor Al said...

There is an amazing amount of introspection among spiritual leaders today. It seems proper that we should flagellate oursleves every now and then. Really, spirituality should be painful.

Having returned to the Church fifteen years ago, I must say that it is the best thing going. I will take its missteps in stride. Hasn't it been said... "the church is my mother?" I thank God that I am even able to read this column with interest and affinity.

When you are finished hurting yourselves, we can spend some time rejoicing. Or...we can go posturing where it really counts.

Anonymous said...

For a long time, I have been disturbed by the proliferation (and incredible growth rate) of the mega-churches, which are quite plentiful in my suburban North Texas area. Mostly disturbed by their bringing new people in, and "entertaining the hell out of them" with grand, expensive Salvation Sideshows on Sunday........not to mention free restaurant meals during the week and some kind of Fun Fest every few weeks, and free lectures based in Pop Psychology (where new age “spirituality” is all about me). I know several people who attend these mega-churches, and at the risk of sounding judgmental, I see little evidence of repentance, changed lives, or of KNOWING God. They know ABOUT God, but don't seem to foster a personal relationship with God or be aware that they can/should know God. Something's pitifully wrong with this picture........it's Show Biz!

Revival Believer said...

I responded to your post on the Pilgrim Holiness Church, but actually the post I referred to on my blog fits better here because it addresses what is wrong with the church. http://revivalbeliever.blogspot.com/2009/08/sanctification-and-hope-for-revival.html