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Has the Church Failed the People?

Prepare, Train and Evaluate
As the body of Christ, we need to prepare people for their role in the great commission by giving them the material, practical support and encouragement they need. Your home church needs to be an attractive, welcoming, friendly and supporting community to those who are not yet Christians and this has to be continual support, and not just for the first month. Within the church there are many types of people; some are Christ seekers who continually seek Jesus, while others are looking at the building and its activities and say, “Wow what a church,” but we all should be saying, “What a Saviour, what a wonderful Saviour - Jesus Christ.”

More than a decade ago, Professor Howard Henricks was asked to assess the declining membership at a certain church. After attending the service for several weeks, he met with the board and made his recommendations: “Put a fence around it and charge admission so that people can come and see how church was done in the 1950s.”

Often we are happy to go with the flow, even when it is deadly slow without stopping to evaluate the situation. We love to put a positive spin on things whilst ignoring all evidence to the contrary. We should not pretend, deny the facts, or ignore constructive criticism from godly, committed, believers any longer, as we are called to truth and integrity; before God we must all give an account and should desire to live to build His Kingdom, His way in His time with His blueprint.

A British Hobo
A man formerly lived in a tent in Britain and whilst reading a tract, he was converted and started attending a local church. Every week he went yet in his own words, “There was always a gap of at least three seats between him and the next person,” and he was not made to feel welcome. Eventually he confronted the pastor and said, “I want you to know that I am not leaving this church, you will not drive me out and tell your congregation to stop avoiding me, I’m here to stay.” The man is now living in a home, still attends church and has been accepted by his other brothers and sisters in the Lord. Never have a meeting where you cannot invite Christ to and always be welcoming.

The Club Called Church
Church should not be a club for the exclusives but for the inclusive, accepting people of all race, creed, colour and social standing. Dirty, sinning people should be allowed to come to a church building or chapel, after all, who else has the message that can clean them up from the inside out? The gospel should not be privatised, criticised or itemised but utilised. “One should fish well and diligently just as the Lord foretells and teaches, saying, ‘Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men’ ” – Saint Patrick of Ireland.

The church needs to deliver the ‘whole council of God’ which includes practical teaching on sin, the new birth, relationships, marriage, work ethics, forgiveness and daily wisdom for every day living such as how to react in various situations. “We are required not only to ‘give no offence to anyone’ and to ‘provide things honest in the sight of all men,’ but to ‘please all men for their good to edification.’ But how difficult it is to do this, with a single eye to God! We ought to do all that in us lies, to prevent ‘the good that is in us from being evil spoken of” – John Wesley, revivalist.

Day-to-Day Living
Some churches give excellent teaching but in reality often don’t explain how it can be applied in day-to-day circumstances. We all need substance in our life and the ‘whole council of God’ includes the good the bad and the ugly, which can be pictured as different types of meals – some foods we prefer more than others! However, we have to have a balance diet and there are no exceptions for those who wants to become a disciple of Jesus Christ.

We know and are convinced that Christ Jesus can make a difference to our eternal destination, of heaven or hell, but often we are unsure of how He can help us in day-to-day decisions. Work takes up around sixty-five percent of a person’s life over a forty-year period and yet more than fifty percent of churchgoers have never heard a sermon on work! (HERE IS ONE: Daily Work - Your Character is Revealed Through Your Work).
Often in the pre-service prayer meetings we pray for the youth leaders and Sunday school teachers who do a great job with the children but then ignore the full time teachers who spend around 35 hours a week with multitudes of children. Our lives are meant to shine bright, and we are meant to be seasoned with salt in our flavourless society, but where can the light shine the brightest? In the darkness; the dismal world of Christ-less institution – the work place and where we study.

Sacred Versus Secular
The church has portrayed to individuals that church activities are important whereas secular employment is not. This is known as the sacred secular divide and had caused misunderstanding down the ages. The view of sacred versus the secular gives an unbalance view of the church, individuals and outreach. This should not be the case as God is interested in all the young people at your school or college just as much as the youth group in which you may attend. God is interested in all the factory workers down the road, just as much as my local congregation. God is interested in people whether fat, tall or small, whether rich, poor or those who talk raw.

The individual who is part of the body of Christ does not cease to be part of the body in their secular employment. They can be the missionary in disguise, after all, the apostle Paul was a ‘tent maker’ who still found time to go from home to home, into the market place and shared to the good news, with a few signs and wonders thrown it as attestation of the powerful transforming message of Jesus Christ! The message is the same; God is the same; why not through people like you and me? Let’s step out in faith and obedience.

Sir James Stewart of Scotland, a famous New Testament scholar said, “If we could but show the whole world that being committed to Christ is no tame, humdrum, sheltered monotony but the most thrilling, exciting adventure the human spirit can ever know, then those who have been standing outside the church and looking askance at Christ would come crowding in to pay allegiance to Him. And we might well expect the greatest revival since Pentecost.”

A Living Reality
Being a disciple of Christ Jesus means that your whole life has been given over to the Master. It is not a case of Sunday is for God and the other six days are for yourself (Sunday saint, Monday aint). Holy, spiritual and anointed people work among normal people in a variety of occupations from butchers to bankers, road sweepers to railway workers, from pigeon feeders to pilots, judges to jewellers to unemployed, uneducated, disabled, retired, young and old alike. Ninety percent of the people we meet from one day to the next and interact with do not: know Jesus Christ, do not attend church, and live on the other side of the fence. We all have our part to play in sharing the good news. You may not be in the limelight, you may not see many conversion, or any, but we have all been called to go and tell, to be faithful, and we must sow the seed, and allow God to bring the increase as it is watered with faithful, persistent prayer.

“There are three kinds of people in the world: the wills, the won’ts, and the cant’s. The first accomplish everything; the second oppose everything; the third fail in everything” – Charles H. Spurgeon, Victorian preacher. Somebody once wrote: ‘Success comes in cans whereas failures come in cant’s!’

Is Jesus Relevant?
We are called to give glory to God in all that we do and to do all for Jesus, so when you study or work, give it your very best. Some men thrust for greatness, but others have greatness thrust upon them. People can see your character and attitude, how you react under pressure, whether you accept responsibility for your actions, shirk responsibilities and if you listen or pass on gossip.

If Jesus is not relevant to Christians where they spend most of their time, (at school or work) why should He be relevant to non-Christians where they spend most of their time? If Jesus is not relevant to your lifestyle, where you spend most of your time, why would He be relevant where we spend less of our time? If this is the case with us, then how could Jesus be possibly relevant to our associates and work colleagues? If this is how we betray Christianity, then the people we mix with will see our faith as merely a preferred way of spending our leisure time, whereas we should be living for God in His transforming power. We will make mistakes and slip up, but we should at least be moving forward in Christ's likeness.

Salt and Light
We need to live as salt and light, so that people can see that our faith is not merely a Sunday faith but a weekly, monthly and annual faith that permeates and acclimatise’s our whole lifestyle. Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission (1860s) was a sceptic before his conversion. He said, “…the inconsistencies of Christians people who while professing to believe the Bible were yet content to live just as if there was no such Book…”

Jesus should be at our very core, the power plant and fuel of our very existence. “It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau.

Examine your life-experiences in the college of life and extract the lessons you’ve learned as forgotten experiences are worthless. ‘Let each man examine his own work…’ (Galatians 6:4).

Jesus Needs You
Tell people about Jesus Christ, what He has done for us and that we need to repent of our sins and have a personal relationship with Him. We are not salesperson but more of a satisfied customer. A witness is one who tells others what they have seen or experienced. We do not have to be educated or even have a deep knowledge of the Bible, we are not telling people to win an argument or to debate; we only have to state our case, “Jesus changed me, He can change you.” Witnessing is part of a normal conversation, a normal lifestyle in a routine, mundane world. Christianity is best spread from one person to another in the form of meaningful conversations, underpinned by prayer, empowered by the Holy Spirit and validated by the evidence of changed lives. It was noted that ‘the disciple were uneducated and untrained men but they had been with Jesus’ (Acts 4:13), and they eventually ‘turned the world upside down!’ (Acts 17:6).

Feed Yourself
To be like the early disciples who had been with Jesus, we need to start taking our spiritual health seriously, in prayer and in reading of the Word of God, the Holy Bible. ‘For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things…’ (1 Timothy 4:8). God said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6), and ‘…Pursue the knowledge of the Lord…’ (Hosea 6:3). The reason that many Christians do not become disciples is because they are not prepared to study the Bible for themselves. We need to prepare ourselves for active learning, as opposed to expecting to grow on the titbits of a Sunday service, and a few verses here and there.

The old saying goes that ‘time is money’, so does the teaching you receive pay dividends? As you study the Bible, ask yourself, “How can I apply this teaching to my life?” or “What does this mean to me?” Look for spiritual principles and see how what you have read can be appropriated within your daily life.

Do not be like the old “baby” Christian who moans, whilst habitually wandering like a spiritual gypsy saying, “My church does not feed me.” Take responsibility, grow up, feed yourself and mature in Christ. Babies need to be fed on milk, before progressing onto solids. After time, they can feed themselves. As the years progress they may be asked to spoon-feed a younger sibling. This cycle continues from one generation to the next and there is no difference in the realm of new converts working towards discipleship. “Trees are not known by their leaves, nor even by their blossoms, but by their fruits” – Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204).

Study Groups and Accountability
It is good to be able to study within a group (church Bible study, youth group, cell group or home group) where questions can be asked and truths can be applied to contemporary life. No one person can disciple a very large group of new converts, the pastor needs help and this is why there is the five-fold ministry of Ephesians 4:11-13 to help ‘equip the body of Christ’ to ‘come to a unity of the faith.’ There are also many older and mature spirit-filled believers who would be able to help nurture young converts in their new found faith.

One of the biggest areas of discipleship that we lack is in ‘accountability,’ the fact that we should be accountable to one person or a small group where we can confess our sins (James 5:16) and talk about our struggles and feelings in complete honesty without being condemned or declared guilty. Accountability is very valuable for when someone steps out of line and then needs to be spoken to (in a gentle loving manner) that what they have done is wrong; that they are accountable for their words and actions.

Formal education is only the beginning of spiritual preparation. We should learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others. The person who insists on learning everything from personal experience will seldom make any progress. The wise disciple builds on the past and instructs what he had learned to those who are following lower down the ladder. The wise disciple will always be looking ahead to seek guidance from the one who is above him and the ladder of progress continues. If one falls from the ladder then be prepared to stretch out an arm to catch them and to pull them alongside for love, safety and security.

Delegate Responsibility
We have to learn how to delegate responsibility, Moses placed his hands on the seventy elders of Israel and God imparted His Spirit. Those seventy became judges who served under Moses and help settle the smaller disputes, thus freeing up Moses for other things. Jesus trained the twelve disciples over a three-year period, from practical demonstrations and teaching, to sending the disciples out on short-term missionary trips. There was also the seventy. Jesus loved the disciples but He also rebuked them when necessary. Read the four gospels, the pastoral epistles of one and two Thessalonians, and Timothy, and the book of Titus for a better understanding of how to teach and train people. You are not alone, and can make a difference to this world and God’s Kingdom. Remember the words of the American President, Robert Kennedy, who said, “One-fifth of all the people are against everything all the time,” so don’t be disheartened or disillusioned. If someone can do a better job than you, then that is fine, let them do it, but never concern yourself over people's criticism's when they have done nothing! Ask not, what Jesus can do for you but ask, "What can I do for Jesus?"

Recommended Books:
  • How Christianity Made the Modern World
  • Discipleship For Everyday Living: Christian Growth
  • How to Plan, Prepare and Successfully Complete Your Short-Term Mission - The Ultimate Guide to Missions

    The Great Commission
  • Mission – the Basics
  • The Great Commission
  • Lessons To Be Learned
  • Ambassadors For Christ
  • Evangelism and World Mission
  • Dynamic Visits and a Fresh Anointing
  • The Link Between Missions and Revival
  • Are Short-Term Mission Trips Effective?
  • ByFaith TV Mission Clips (Season 1)
  • ByFaith TV Mission Clips (Season 2)

    Bible and History Related Links:
  • The Bible - its History, Overview and Application
  • A Brief Overview of each Book of the Bible
  • Bible and Church Sitemap
  • Britain Sitemap
  • The History of England / Britain
  • The History / Origins of the English Language
  • Christianity and the Development of Democracy and Human Rights
  • The Bicentenary of the End of the Slave Trade 1807-2007 - William Wilberforce