Series Theme: Looking for a Better Church: A Church Check
Why go through these exercises
Complacency and familiarity are two of the enemies of modern church life and from our experience they are very common. Complacency says, “We are doing all right. The church continues week by week. Why upset things?” Familiarity says, “We know all about church, we've been doing it for years and we like what we know, why bring change?”
Unfortunately the truth is that the state of the church is not wonderful when you look at the state of the nation. On any Sunday morning it is estimated that less than five per cent of the population is in a church. Listen to public figures in the media and the church does not rate highly in their estimation. The church has not conveyed a good image to a world that is image-conscious today.
Look at church statistics and for traditional denominations in particular it is not a great picture. Apart from Church failing to draw people to Christ in any large number and add them to the church, church watchers, over the last decade, have observed a number of Christians dropping out of church life. They have not stopped being Christians; it is just that they have stopped participating in ‘church activities'. Comments like, “I found it boring,” or “It just no longer seemed relevant to modern life,” are common.
Whether it be to counter declining church numbers, or to counter Christians dropping out or simply to avoid complacency or familiarity that appear to accept failure to draw the world to Christ, it is worth giving thought to these issues. The ones that I cover in this series of articles/papers, call them what you will, are often issues I have covered in other writings and are certainly things I have observed in a number of local churches.
Different Church Cultures
Perhaps to prepare our hearts, we might ask the question, what do you expect to be happening in your local church? Whatever your answer, if it doesn't include the word ‘change' I would suggest you are missing God's heart as revealed in the New Testament.
What sort of changes are we talking about?
A church culture that sees its role as simply being there week by week will probably not be here in ten years time for, we might say, it is purely concerned with existence or maintenance.
A church culture that sees its role more in New Testament terms as reaching out to others and providing an environment for personal and spiritual growth will be concerned not only with its own existence but also the existence of the surrounding community and will give thought and consideration to how it may reach out to that community to draw others to Christ.
A church culture that wishes to be more godly will go beyond this and will seek to become a people who listen to God and obey what they are hearing and work to mature, develop & equip its people to become an expression of Jesus Christ to the surrounding world, expressing his love and goodness and his revelation and power.
This latter description, we believe is the only one that is truly on God's heart and will have impact in this world of the early twenty first century.
So what things?
As I have watched and observed ‘church' from a new perspective over these last three years there seem a number of areas of recurring failure or weakness, all of which detract from that third godly church culture I described above. Seeking to cover those areas the following articles/papers will cover:
1. Purpose & Direction
2. Awareness Issues
4. Specifically Bible Study & Knowledge
6. Prayer & Holy Spirit Freedom
7. Individual Gifting
9. Prophecy – use and abuse
I have written elsewhere (see the various “Looking Afresh” papers) on most of these subjects and so mostly (except the first two papers) these papers will be relatively short and will see to be summary papers, that are easily read for discussion and (hopefully) action purposes.
To see some of these subjects in much greater detail you can go to
The numbers after the titles above indicate the number of papers in each ‘series'. The ‘ Witnessing Church ' one is clearly not a series but more of a summary of a lot of issues.
However, I reiterate, apart from the first two which lay fresh groundwork for the rest, each of thee ‘papers' are more of a quick to use summary. My prayer is that they will have that use and help bring change to much of the Christian Church that is clearly in need today.