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Problems Facing the Church

Over the years, as I have attended and watched conferences online, one of my favorite parts of the conferences has always been the question-and-answer sessions. For those who are not familiar, these sessions take speakers from the conference, usually three or four at a time, and put them in a panel where they answer questions that have been asked by people who are attending the conference. Usually, these questions are related to the theme of the conference, current events and their relation to the Bible and Christian life, some deep theological debate that may be raging at the time, but one question almost always comes up. That is, “What is the biggest problem or challenge facing the church today?”

Honestly, I almost cringe when I hear this question come up. The main reason for my response is that the answer is different from person to person and from place to place. Not every pastor, church leader, or seminary professor is going to have the same view, especially if they are from different parts of the world. For instance, a pastor in the northern parts of Africa might answer that the looming threat of Islam is a major challenge facing their church, while a seminary professor in Latin America might say that getting quality training materials for their students is a major challenge. I would say that both of these answers are correct given the context of the person giving the answer.

So, how would I answer the question? I actually have several answers, and if you allow me, I will share them with you here.

First, I see a lack of concern for Biblical doctrine as a problem facing the church. While there are people who take a stand for the Bible all over the world, unfortunately they are too few and far between. If the pastors in churches will learn what the Bible actually says about things pertaining to doctrine and how Christians should live their lives, instead of relying on what they have been taught by people who may have bad information to begin with, we would see far fewer instances of pastors being caught in adultery, having moral failures, and those sorts of things. Then, once they learn the doctrines taught in the Bible for themselves, they can take those doctrines to the people they are called to lead and actually lead them.

Second, I see too much entertainment and not enough true worship going on in the church. When Jesus was talking to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, the subject of the place of worship came around in the conversation. Jesus, as He always does, goes further in the subject. “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24 NASB)

Unfortunately, we have a lot of entertainers and emotional hype persons in the church today and not many of those who know what it means to worship the Father either in spirit or in truth. I would challenge so many churches around the world to keep the lights on during the music section of their next service. I would challenge them to get rid of the huge band and crazy musicians and extra singers. Instead, have one singer and maybe a few instruments. No light shows, no fog machines, put the pulpit back on the platform and just sing and preach the Word of God and then see how many lives can be changed.

Another challenge I see facing the church today is a lack of training for church leaders. I am not saying that there is not training available, what I am saying is that the number one place for training is not being utilized. Churches, especially in highly developed parts of the world, are so quick to send their future church leaders off to seminary that they forget that the church is supposed to be the number one training ground. Paul, when he wrote to Timothy (who he trained for ministry), said this, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2 NASB)

Just as Timothy was to teach others, we too must be willing and able to teach the next generation of pastors and teachers in the church. Timothy did not have the great opportunity to go into thousands of dollars of debt for the next several years in order to go off to another town or city for up to ten years to earn a doctorate’s degree so he could become the pastor of the church in Ephesus. Instead, he got hands-on training at the side of Paul, who then told him to teach others in the same way. This, I believe, is a tragically overlooked part of the ministry of the church today.

Finally, though not truly the last issue I see, I would say that one of the greatest challenges facing the church today is the over-politization of the church, especially in the United States. God did not create the church to be an influence in the political sphere. Instead, He created the church to be an influence in the spiritual walk of the people who attend, which will then lead them to make correct decisions in the political world. I would encourage all believers, especially those who are in leadership in their churches, leave the politics outside the church doors, get the flags out of the sanctuaries or meeting places (whatever your church calls the room where the Word of God is preached on a regular basis), stop looking to men and women to change the world, preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, make disciples of the people in your community, teach the whole counsel of the Word of God, and allow God to work through you. Only when these things are done, when our political idols are cast down and destroyed and we turn to God to make changes in our world, will we see the Lord move like never before.

Let me leave you with this. When we stop looking outside the Word of God and look to the world for answers, we have made a huge error in our lives. It is only through the Word of God that we will find the answers to our most difficult questions. Saturate your life and your mind with the Word of God, study it, soak in it, stay in it.

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