Bruce Gerencser’s second post in the My Journey series, My Testimony, deals with two separate issues:
1. The pointlessness of much of what we call church ministry
2. His conclusions on the Bible
This post explores some of his thoughts on the first issue. God willing, we’ll deal with the second issue in the next post.
Bruce has some rather strong criticisms of much of what we call church ministry. In fact, he introduced this complaint in his first installment of the My Journey series, Why I Retired From The Ministry, citing one of his reasons for leaving the church as:
- The meaninglessness of vast parts of American Christianity. I have come to realize that most of what we do in Christianity doesn’t amount to much of anything. We seem to spend most of our time and effort making sure we have things to spend most of our time and effort on. We collect money so we can spend the money so we can collect money so we can spend the money…..It seems that much of our work is simply done to keep the Titanic floating . Little progress is made in truly making a difference in the world.
In My Testimony, he relates how he began to search for a church that reflected the ideals of the Bible:
“I left the ministry as a tired, worn out,abused preacher. When I left the ministry I was still a believer. I thought that the problem was the churches I pastored or perhaps me personally. If I just found the right church to attend the ship could be righted and all would be well. For four years, and five states, I looked for that one church that took Christianity seriously and practiced teachings of Jesus. After visiting over 125 churches, attending some of them for months, especially those in the community I lived in at the time, I came to the conclusion that no matter what the name was on the door every church was the same.
My crisis of faith did not begin as a theological struggle. It began as I looked at the Christian Church as a whole and came to the conclusion that, for the most part, the Christian church was a meaningless social club. While I certainly realized there were probably some exceptions out there somewhere I didn’t find any.”
He has a point: we’re hardly turning the world upside-down. Many of us are merely weekend warriors. I speak this to our shame.
He continues this thread in another post called Does the Church Matter?:
“I know this sounds harsh, even mean, but it is the truth, Most people AREN’T in Church on any given Sunday. Most Churches rarely venture outside of the four walls of their building. For the most part their impact on the day today lives of most people is nonexistent.
Certainly Churches are a source of comfort, encouragement, support, inspiration and instruction for many of the people who attend on Sunday. Certainly each Church members has the potential to make a big difference in the world. To the degree that the individual finds what they need at Church I say Good for them. But, to suggest that the Church makes a huge difference in our society is a gross overstatement.
Outside of a one night a week youth outreach in an abandoned lumberyard building there is no visible demonstration of the Church outside the four walls of the Churches.
What we have is convenient,nice, polite, meaningless Christianity. What is absent is the life changing, counter-cultural, subversive message of the man named Jesus.”
Think about it. What is missing from society is a Christianity that engages the culture with good works and the message of Jesus! Did you know that, according to Barna Research, the majority of Christians go through their entire lives without ever leading even one single person to Christ? How can this be? How can we have come so far from the Great Commission? How can we have come so far from engaging the world with the life-changing message of Christ? The early Church prayed for boldness in the face of opposition; the modern church stays safely and irrelevantly behind Church walls and unconvincingly laments that the lost do not come to hear the message we were sent to preach in words and works.
Bruce’s concluding remarks from Does the Church Matter are chilling, but I think his assessment is unfortunately accurate:
“This is one of the reasons I ultimately rejected the Christian faith.
I couldn’t square my day to day experience in the Church with:
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:34, 35
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! Psalm 133:1
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: John 17:2-22
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 1 John 4:7
It was anything but love and unity.”
Now I know this is a silly reason to quit Christ; after all, all the burnt-edged, runny-middled, egg shell-riddled omelets in the world do not invalidate the recipe for the perfect omelete. They just show why it’s important to follow the directions! But let’s face it: people are turned off by the hypocrisy and irrelevance of much of modern church. People want to be a part of something that has purpose. They want action, not lipservice. Works, not just words. They wants something authentic and compelling.
They want Christ in us, the hope of glory, even if they do not yet know it! They need someone to show them the way, and this is why we are commanded to let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven [Matthew 5:16]. How long will we hide our lamps under a basket, shuttered within the safety of our church walls? When will we be bold enough to shine bright for Christ, outside the church walls in the fields that are ripe for harvest?
Men and women of God, may Christ find your lamps trimmed and brightly burning when He comes!
God bless you,