Are We Pushing People Out of the Church?

Are We like the Pharisees in Jesus’ Day?

This is a question that I’ve been asking myself lately as I’ve been reading through this devotional I have. As a Christian, I know that I have been called to make disciples of many nations as Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:19 but this also begs the question of how I have been treating those that have come into the Church. Have I become like the Pharisees; praising myself where I can be seen while the internal, spiritual side of me is dirty and unclean?

As a Christian, we are called to be the Church. We are called to humble ourselves, but this comes at denying what our flesh and our pride want; which is hard for us as human beings, especially as Christians. Jesus taught many times that we are to be IN the world but not OF the world, and in my opinion, that includes the Church.

Are we serving God or ourselves?

Luke 16:13 (NKJV) says, “13. No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

The Church is not just for us to come and praise God, listen to a sermon and leave and forget what we’ve been taught; no, it’s also about community and about being there for our brothers and sisters. But if this is the case, then why are we as the Church pushing people away? Does it have something to do with how the Church is run?

As the Church, we are called to be a community and as such; we should be willing to come together and help each other even if that means being there as a supporter for someone who’s lost a loved one.

Like the Pharisees in Jesus’s day, are our Church leaders becoming legalistic and focusing more on the material aspects of the Church instead of the welfare and spiritual side of their congregation and those they were assigned to lead? This reminds me of a verse in Isaiah where the Lord speaks about the people of Israel and how they have begun to honor Him with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him.

Isaiah 29:13 (NKJV) says, “13. Therefore the Lord said: ‘Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men…’”

Mike Mobley of Before the Cross wrote an article entitled “Church Is More Important Than You Think” that I feel helps to capture the opposite of what this blog post is about.

In the article, Mike Mobley states that “Many are growing up in the church or at least observing it and when their expectations aren’t met, they are leaving.” What I found really interesting about this quote is that this could be true; maybe it’s because as Christians, we have certain expectations that need to be met and when they aren’t, we decide to leave the Church because our needs aren’t being met. Throughout his article, Mike Mobley has several quotes that I feel help us to understand what it means to be “the Church.”

  • Church is the body of Christ. It’s the people. Every follower of Jesus is a member of the body and together, we make up the church.”
    • It isn’t a building or a location, but it’s made up of individuals. The church is the hope of the world and God will use His Church to advance His Kingdom.”
  • You simply can’t “leave” or be “done” with the church. What you’re really saying is that you want to follow Jesus on your own terms, not on the Bible’s terms.
  • “Followers of Jesus don’t become perfect once they start to follow Him. We are just as sinful today as we were yesterday, but the difference is we follow and trust a Savior who has forgiven us.”
    • “You don’t have to clean yourself up or be perfect to be a part of the church, but only put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. You’ll still make mistakes, but that’s the beauty of Jesus…you’ll still be forgiven.”
  • We have missed the importance of being involved with our brothers and sisters in Christ and serving and loving our neighbors. We are choosing our own preferences and are wanting to follow Jesus on our own.
    • “God makes it clear all throughout His Word that the life of the Christian is not to be spent in isolation, but within community. We are designed for people. We were created for relationships. We need others. We need Jesus. We need the Church.”

Mike Mobley said, “God makes it clear all throughout His Word that the life of the Christian is not to be spent in isolation, but within community. We are designed for people. We were created for relationships. We need others. We need Jesus. We need the Church.

Related Post: Let’s Build Each Other Up

One of my favorite quotes in Mike Mobley’s article is when he stated that “God makes it clear all throughout His Word that the life of the Christian is not to be spent in isolation but within community. We are designed for people. We were created for relationships. We need others. We need Jesus. We need the Church.” The reason why I find this quote so interesting is that I agree with it. As Christians, we are often told that we are to be a community of believers but how can we possibly do this if we are pushing people out of the church due to the legalistic doctrine of the Church? 

In her blog post entitled, “It’s Not About Church | If You Haven’t Seen It”, T.R. Noble of Inside Cup writes that “The church provides an environment for us to find others who share Someone in common. God is an amazing icebreaker when meeting new people” and what I found to be very fascinating about this quote is that this is essentially why I feel that some churches could be hurting the body of Christ. In her blog post, T.R. has several quotes that I feel can help us as Christians begin to understand why we’re potentially pushing people out of the Church.

  • “The church community is meant to encourage and uplift each other. We can keep each other accountable. It helps us not backslide in sin. It is meant to be a safe environment.”
    • “… we need shepherds to help lead the body. One of the main jobs for a pastor is to help and encourage the flock.”
      • “Pastors can answer questions and protect the flock from wolves.”
  • “So the discussion about God, Jesus, and what it means to have a relationship, may very possibly, be answered by people who also do not attend and therefore have a weaker understanding.”
    • The bond of believers should be strengthened together, not have us pinned against one another.

T.R. Noble said, “… we need shepherds to help lead the body. One of the main jobs for a pastor is to help and encourage the flock.”

Related Post: Church Has Become An Idol Pt. 1 | Appearance of Christ

What I love about T.R.’s quote regarding the community of believers is that she recognizes that the pastor is called to lead the church. But, I also think that because the pastor is called to lead the church, he/she should also be held accountable to not only God but to other pastors to make sure that the pastor in question isn’t teaching a false doctrine.

Therefore I feel that as Christians, we should be willing to lead others in our church community as well because we shouldn’t just put it all on our pastor’s shoulders to lead the Church. In Mark 7, the Pharisees see Jesus and remark that some of His disciples don’t wash their hands according to the tradition they grew up in with Jesus Himself remarking on the Pharisees need to uphold the “tradition of men.”

Mark 7:5 (NKJV) says, “5. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, ‘Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands.”

Although some Christians probably aren’t the pastors of churches, we should still be willing to lead people to church; not by force or manipulation but by genuinely wanting the best for them. As Christians, we are oftentimes called by God to step out of our comfort zones to lead others but the question remains: Are we willing to do it?

We aren’t to be like the Pharisees of Jesus’s day who were more legalistic that we forget why we are meant to bring people to Christ.

Sometimes the hardest thing is to lead others to God. Leading requires us to step out of the comfort zone and be willing to say to ourselves ‘It’s better to be Jesus then say, Jesus.’”

In my theology class, we are discussing how to think theologically and one of the things that I took away from it was that too often, our unwillingness as Christians to ponder questions we may have our God, our faith, and Jesus have been understood to be a lack of faith. Is it because of this characteristic that people are beginning to leave the church? In my opinion, I believe that it’s one of the reasons but not one of the main ones. why people leave the church.

As we see within the Bible, there have been various times throughout the four Gospels where Jesus has criticized the way the Pharisees distorted the way the 10 Commandments were instituted with Him stating in Matthew 23:27-28 (NKJV), ”27. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

As Christians, are we ourselves so full of hypocrisy that we are leading others through a false doctrine? If we are, then we could be possibly filled with what Jesus describes as “full of dead men’s bones?” Thus as Christians, we could be pushing people out of the church due to the state of our own hearts and relationship with God. 

If our hearts are in the wrong place and our relationship with God isn’t there then we as people and as human beings are more likely to put on a façade of how we want the world to perceive us while holding onto false doctrine that could be harming us spiritually.

In the end, though, as the body of Christ, we are called to be leaders within our church community but that also depends on how we as Christians go about treating the people within our communities. As T.R. stated in her post, “The church community is meant to encourage and uplift each other. We can keep each other accountable. It helps us not backslide in sin. It is meant to be a safe environment.”

If we as Christians are to be the light to the world, we must first start by examining our heart condition and how we lead our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

So, what do you think?

Do we as Christians hold each other accountable?

Are we unknowingly pushing people out of the Church?

 

God Bless,

Joshua Reid

 

References

Mobley, Mike. “Church Is More Important Than You Think”, beforethecross.com, https://www.beforethecross.com/biblical-teachings/church-is-more-important-than-you-think/ . Accessed 4 Feb 2019.

Noble, T.R. “It’s Not About Church | If You Haven’t Seen It”, nobledevotionblog.wordpress.com, https://nobledevotionblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/02/its-not-about-church-if-you-havent-seen-it/ . Accessed 8 Feb 2019.

 

Picture References

Author Unknown. “Mark 7:5 (NKJV)”, https://biblepic.com/mark/7-5.htm . Accessed 9 Feb 2019.

Author Unknown. “Isaiah 29:13 (NKJV)”, https://www.bible.com/verse-of-the-day/ISA.29.13/25566?version=114 . Accessed 8 Feb 2019.

Hawkins, Jeffrey. “God-Given Leadership Roles” modified about 1 year ago, https://slideplayer.com/slide/11817880/ . Accessed 5 Feb 2019.

Pilot, Gaige. “Welcome To Pastor Garry Clark’s PowerPoint presentation from the April 16 the sermon: What Drove Jesus’ Enemies Welcome To Pastor Garry Clark’s PowerPoint.”, modified over 3 years ago, https://slideplayer.com/slide/3460278/ . Accessed 9 Feb 2019.

 

 

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Are We Pushing People Out of the Church?

  1. Way to go on covering this topic and I love your balance of the importance of what the church body is meant to do for each other, and then what it is NOT meant to do. I also really agree with what you added about pastors. Pastors are shepherds, and it is crucial they have a circle of other shepherds to look out for them, especially at least one elder to direct them. Thank you for referencing my links as well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this! “The church is the hope of the world” Jesus said it like this:

    “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven…Matthew 5:13-16

    Liked by 1 person

    • Once again, thank you so much for your support. I agree with you when you said, “The church is the hope of the world” because I feel that it’s through the Church that it will become the hope of the world. I definitely agree with you that not only Christians but as the Church; we are the salt and light of the earth.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been thinking about this lately, too! And I’ve been wondering how much do we make cultural preferences our “law”…and superimpose those “laws” upon our lives and the lives of other Christians instead of keeping solely to Scripture. Excellent and thought-provoking post, Josh! So good to read your thoughtful posts again! God bless you greatly!

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    • Thank you so much for your support and comment, Lynn. I agree with you when you said, “I’ve been wondering how much do we make cultural preferences our “law”…and superimpose those “laws” upon our lives and the lives of other Christians instead of keeping solely to Scripture.”

      I do feel that because we have begun to superimpose our “laws” onto our way of life that we’ve lost sight of who we were called to be as Christians.

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  4. All things seem to come down to a balance. Some people leave church because their perceived ‘needs’ are not being met; I attend church as much to minister to others as to be ministered to. ON another tangent, some are continuing in their sin and don’t want anyone holding them accountable; others have no idea what the Bible truly says, probably because many people never read it on their own/study the Word. As one pastor said: “we don’t need meetings that aren’t meeting needs” so it’s up to those in the congregation to discern what the needs truly are, within sound doctrine based on the Bible. We tend to have poor lines of communication, take offense easily, and don’t seem to acknowledge often the other side of the issue.

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