Saturday, May 31, 2008

Comb-Over Christianity....


I've been reading the book "Planting Missional Churches" by Ed Stetzer and in that book, he shares some alarming statistics about the state of the American Church:

-In 1900, there were 28 churches for every 10,000 Americans.
-In 1950, there were 17 churches for every 10,000 Americans.
-In 2000, there were 12 churches for every 10,000 Americans.
-In 2004, the latest year available, there are 11 churches for every 10,000 Americans.

As I look around our community and see the hundreds of people, literally thousands of people who are not in a relationship with Jesus...as a church planter and pastor, in my spirit, I am agonized with how to reach them. The lackadazical concern expressed by most Christians to these kind of stats is troublesome and symptomatic of a serious spiritual problems. Our contentment at our increasing decline as it relates to impact and reach of the lost in our communities, must break the heart of God. If the love of God resides within us, if the passion of Christ was the cost to redeem, where is the zeal to see the Lord worshipped by thousands.

How can we be content for a few hundred people? How can we truly be empowered by the some Holy Spirit that fell on the church and yet...the same fruit seems to be absent from our new testament churches?

I am reminded of Rachel's deep maternal cry: "Give me children, or else I die!" (Genesis 30:1)

The church has to face the cold, hard facts....we are losing ground. Like the desperate man who combs over his last retreating hairs...our attempts at making ourselves feel better about our lack of true conversions is starting to just look embarrassing.

I find the trend of smaller is bigger, sounding and looking like a comb-over; if it's really just an attempt to convince ourselves that just relationally spooning with a small group somehow fulfills the great commission

Simple church can be a comb-over if it's really just difficult, rebellious, critical, nit-picky people who can't coexist with a group larger than 50.

Lifestyle evangelism is often a comb-over for cowardly people who are distracted by the pursuit of the American dream instead of the salvation of their neighbors.

Marriage centric life can be a comb-over, if it means that the call of God, the damnation of potentially lost souls and the kingdom of God is left cooling on the back burner; while meeting all the carnal desires of some self focused, earthly minded spouse trumps everything eternal.

Family can become an idol in American life. It becomes a hollow comb-over when children are taught that the mission of God and the people of God are second to pleasure, food, lawns and work; instead of rooting in them a deep passion for the things that will endure beyond this life.

5-minute Devotions, scheduled through the bible check lists, programs for every personal niche in the overly marketed American life can be embarrassing comb-overs; that painfully attempt to hide an inner life that isn’t nourished from bubbling up springs of living water.

Many of our religious comb-overs are attempts to hide the fact that we are spiritually poor, blind, miserable and naked as churches and individual Christians. No matter how well we may think we are hiding the truth...it’s obvious to most people around us. Maybe it is simply time to shave our heads and humble ourselves before God and man and accept the truth of who we are and where we are? Then maybe God will be able to do something in us and through us that isn't a comb-over but a over-coming work of grace, worthy of the death of His son.

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