Do Today’s Corporate Churches Miss The Point?

Contender Ministries

Posted June 29, 2002

18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." – Matthew 28:18-20

The scripture above is known as The Great Commission.  It is our marching order from the Lord Jesus Christ.  It defines our purpose, not only as individual believers, but also as Christ’s church.  If we were to sum the Great Commission up in one word, it would have to be, “Go!”  There are three main parts to our marching orders, and they start with “Go”, “baptize”, and “teach.”  These are all verbs, which require action.  They are also imperatives – orders that we are to comply with.  Unfortunately, it is far too commonplace today to see Christ’s church sitting back, retreating from the world, and becoming an entity that resembles a corporation more than the bride of Christ. 

You probably think I’m referring to the large denominations with formal governing bodies, but I’m not – not entirely.  Oh, it’s true that in many denominations, the right to raise one’s hands toward heaven and say “amen!” during the worship service must be cleared by a two-thirds vote at the following annual convention.  It’s also true that many of the larger denominations are slowly abandoning biblically sound doctrine to pursue acceptance or an endorsement of tolerance by the politically correct thought police.  It’s a situation that would have kept George Orwell tossing in his bed during many sleepless nights.  But I’m not referring to the behemoth denominational monsters that move at the speed of a crippled invertebrate.  I’m talking about churches at the local level that are so focused on building their own churches into towers of Babel – temples that comfort the occupants inside, while filtering out the world through stained glass windows.

I recently came across the website for a Baptist church located in the Seattle, Washington area.  In the staff directory, I found people filling the following positions:  Senior Pastor, Executive Pastor, Director of Adult Ministries, Receptionist, Director of Children's Ministries, Director of Youth Ministries, Director of FAITH Outreach, Director of Preschool Ministries, Data Manager, Christ-Centered Guidance Counselor, Bookkeeper, Director of Worship Ministries, Executive Pastor's Secretary, Senior Pastor's Secretary, Secretary, Chef, Building Supervisor, Custodial Supervisor, and two custodians.  Chef?!  Now I would definitely not want to begrudge a congregation of their staff chef, nor any of their secretarial positions, but it made me wonder how active this church’s missions and evangelism programs are.  I can’t help but think that some of these salaries might be put to better use supporting missionaries in the field, or building programs of community involvement.  I wonder if this is a “Go” church, or not. 

I was interested in attending the services at a “mega-church”, also located here in the Seattle area.  I looked up their website, and once again felt unsettled.  The website mentioned very little about this church’s beliefs or programs.  What it did very well was show me pictures of their pastor.  Here’s a photo of the pastor and his wife.  Over here is a photo of the pastor at the pulpit.  Here’s a glamour shot of Pastor Kyle (not his real name).  Even the domain name for the church is the pastor’s name!!  Now this church may very well have excellent services, and they may even have an active missions program.  But from looking at their website, I felt no welcome to attend, and I saw no links informing me of the plan of salvation.  I felt Pastor “Kyle” would have loved for me to come, provided I tithed and complimented him on his hair, but that again is a rush to judgment. 

The thought police have made this a hostile world in which to be a Christian, but this is a world that desperately needs to know Christ!  The Roman Emperor stopped throwing Christians to the lions a long time ago.  As we roll toward the last days, it’s quite possible that Christians will be forced underground once again.  Now is the time where we must be active ambassadors for Jesus!  There is a small but growing trend today that is departing from “Churchianity” and returning to the roots of the early Christian church.  The House Church movement and small group meetings within traditional churches are gaining in popularity.  These smaller forums allow for more interpersonal relationships and accountability among their members.  They also start the move from the pews to the streets. 

When the Pharisees saw Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners at Matthew’s house (who was a tax collector himself), they asked one of the disciples why Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners.  Jesus heard this, and replied, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick…. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12,13).  It is important for Christians to come together and worship together.  We must not, however, neglect our marching orders.  We cannot make disciples of all the nations when we’re stuck on the business side of stained-glass windows, debating who should take over the coffee ministry, or how much money will need to be raised to buy the pews with extra padding on the seats. 

I read an article recently in which the author gave a good test to see if your church is a “go” church (one actively following the orders of the Great Commission) or a “come” church (one where pew upholstery is a hotly debated and highly funded project).  The test is simple: listen to the announcements after next week’s..((yawn)) sermon or read them from the bulletin.  If your church is a “come” church, your announcements will sound something like this:  Sunday - deacons meeting, right after church, come; Monday – children’s ministry, come; Tuesday – ladies’ meeting, come; Wednesday – young adults, be sure to come; Saturday – men’s meeting, come; next Sunday – potluck, come with good food

Now, I like a good potluck as much as anyone else, but if all your church activities are conducted within the confines of the building, or are invitation-only, then the Great Commission is taking a back seat to the coffee ministry and the new pews!  The self-involved, corporate-style church is in danger of becoming like the church in Laodicea: 

14"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”
Revelations 3:14-17

We cannot afford to become so preoccupied with the inner workings of church government, or with financing improvements to real property infrastructure, that we forget the mission with which Jesus charged us.  We are to be fishers of men, not lovers of ourselves.  We are to be disciples, not stockholders.  And we are to make disciples of others, not make capital ventures for ourselves.  In summary, we are to contend for our faith.



Contender Ministries