Monday, August 25, 2008

The Church Is Full Of Hypocrites...

The church is full of hypocrites.

I've heard it, and you've heard it. The thought intimidates many Christians. Not just because people say it, but because we've seen it, too. It's hard to share Jesus when we believe the church doesn't show Jesus.

After all, they don't like us...right? A crowded bandwagon to jump on these days is the one that says the world is going to hell because of Christians. Our arrogance, legalism, and screwed-up-ness is constantly written about... often by us.

And it's true, at least partly. The unchurched aren't too excited about church. And they have concerns about Christians. But that shouldn't keep us from living and sharing Jesus.

Jesus they like. Us... well... not so much.

Our culture is a rebuke to us as Christ followers and, at the same time, a challenge. Is there something that causes our culture to like Jesus but reject the church?

Yes. It's us.

Obviously, it's more than that. And there is an important spiritual element here... only God can open people's eyes. But we have been a big part of the problem.

It seems to me that one of the big mistakes Christ followers have been making is separating the explanation of the Gospel from the demonstration of the Gospel. For too long, Christians have been sharing presentations and not explaining how faith makes a difference in daily life. Maybe that's what the world has rejected. People don't want to hear another presentation, or be seen as a prospect. They want to be somebody's friend, to see up close and personal the difference Jesus makes in a person's life.

People want a faith that is not just "tell," but "be" and "do." All three matter: "be," "do," and "tell."

Even though the unchurched have a confused view of God and a negative view of the church, the fact that they are overwhelmingly open to someone sharing about their faith should make us stop and think. Or maybe, it should make us go and tell. We believe religion is off-limits in polite conversation, but the vast majority of unchurched people say they would enjoy conversations about spiritual matters.

Even more important, an astonishing number of unchurched people say they have at least one close friend who considers himself or herself a Christian.

Look at it this way, we can stop searching for unchurched people to talk with about Jesus. We already know them, and they are open to talking with us. All we need to do is start the conversations. (I'm also thinking Christ followers need to revisit hospitality and friendship as part of the lived-out-ness of our faith. Starting with the people who serve us at restaurants, and ring us out at the cash register at the grocery store, or the mall.)

Christians don't have the home field advantage we once had, but people are open to listening, and God is still powerfully working... using people and churches to take Jesus to an increasingly confused world.