What Kind of Church Do You Have?

by Jëan Ross, Director of Church Ministries

An Amazing Fact: Beekeepers all over the North America are reporting that bee colonies are dying off in unprecedented numbers, leaving them struggling for survival and farmers worried about pollination of their crops. This mysterious disappearance of bees ranges from 30 percent to 70 percent in some areas, so that blooming orchards that used to roar with buzzing bees are now strangely silent. One California beekeeper said, “I have never seen anything like it. Box after box are just empty. There’s nobody home.” Experts are exploring several theories to explain the losses, which they are calling “colony collapse disorder.” These include viruses, mites, pesticide contamination, and even poor bee nutrition.

Albert Einstein once remarked, “If bees were to disappear, man would only have a few years to live.” Today many churches are also at risk of colony collapse disorder, which could cause catastrophic consequences for the great commission!

What Kind of Church Do You Have?
In Matthew 16, Jesus asks His disciples, “Whom do men say that I … am?” They answered, “Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; … or one of the prophets.”

Yet Jesus pressed His disciples: “But whom say ye that I am?” Finally, Peter proclaimed, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

To this startling confession, Jesus responded, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” To come to a correct understanding of Jesus requires more than an understanding of history, it requires a revelation from the Holy Spirit.

Jesus then added, “Thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Of course, the rock upon which the church is built is not the fickle apostle, but rather Jesus Christ. Peter didn’t see himself as the foundation of the church; rather, he says in Acts 4:11 that Jesus Himself is the chief cornerstone.

That’s why the church, empowered by the living Christ, is able to break down the gates of hell. Filled with God’s Spirit, Christ’s church is to conduct aggressive spiritual warfare, rescuing lost souls from the enemy. Why then are there so many churches intent on avoiding this battle, even though they have been promised in Luke 10:19, “I give unto you … over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you”?

For the sake of God’s people and those who are lost, let’s do an experiment. Below, I have divided churches into three primary mentalities. I want you to consider these church types and honestly determine where your church fits in. After that, we’ll discover how to make sure you have the church that Christ wants you to have as we approach His soon return.

The Castle Mentality
A castle has high walls and iron gates to protect those on the inside. Thus, the castle church is more concerned about protecting itself, something like a monastery on a secluded hill cloistering the residents, than fulfilling the mission of preaching the gospel and making disciples.

In the castle mentality, institutionalism takes the place of mission. The church forgets why it was established, believing its primary purpose is to preserve itself and establish comfort and security. It makes decisions to prosper itself rather than on the basis of being a beacon of truth to the entire world.

It also prefers tradition over principle. After the Jews returned from their Babylonian exile, they were so afraid of losing their identity that they sought to safeguard the Sabbath by creating countless traditions. As time passed, these traditions became more important than the principles upon which they were established. They valued their outward display so much that they accused Jesus of Sabbath-breaking when He healed a person in need on the Sabbath.

Traditions are good when founded upon solid biblical principles, but when the traditions become more important than the principles they supposedly serve, the church’s activities become empty ceremonies void of the power of the Holy Spirit. Outward display takes the place of inward purity, and the power of the gospel is eclipsed by manmade rituals.

The castle church is focused on preserving and protecting itself from influences that would disrupt the status quo and its power structure, all the while neglecting its true mission — gathering sheep to His flock.

The Resort Mentality

Imagine palm trees swaying in the wind, white sandy beaches, poolside lounge chairs, popular music — everything to please and entertain. Welcome to the resort church.

With a resort mentality, churches focus primarily on drawing large crowds. For them, bigger is better: The larger the attendance, the more successful it considers itself to be. The resort church spends most of its resources developing new and exciting programs to increase attendance.

Resort churches rely on “worship” that is entertaining, appealing mostly to the unconverted heart. Jesus said of the hypocrites, “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Mark 7:6). Worship without genuine conversion is worthless. True worship is the out-flowing of the Holy Spirit, happening mostly in the heart of the worshipper.

This church also de-emphasizes fundamental truths, ignoring such vital lessons as surrender, consecration, and obedience. Some resort pastors doesn’t teach about the Sabbath or stewardship, but rather only preach fluffy sermons on positive thinking and the promise of prosperity. Otherwise, someone might be offended and leave. In many cases, the very message that needs to be heard is not because it is unpopular. This allows selfishness and sin to continue festering unchecked.

The resort church is more concerned about marketing prosperity than conversion. Its function is to please. Like the castle mentality, it exists primarily for itself and is guilty of misrepresenting the truths of Scripture for its own ends.

The Seek-and-Save Mentality

The seek-and-save church exists primarily for two reasons: to reveal the character of God and to labor for the growth of His kingdom. Evangelism, in other words, is its focus.

Thus, this church has a clear understanding of its true mission. It’s not just a gathering of the like-minded, but a church that exists for the very reason God established it.

Every member is involved in outreach — utilizing their individual talents. In an army, not every soldier is on the frontlines; some supply the resources, others help with communications, and still others orchestrate the battle from behind the scenes. So it is in evangelism: Not everyone can preach, but everyone in the church can do something.

Therefore, this church also supplies the training and equipment to lay members. A victorious army is a well-trained army that works together, using all their talents effectively in one effort. So it is with church evangelism.

The seek-and-save church is also concerned with the ongoing process of conversion, not simply baptism. The apostle Paul said he died daily and that sanctification was the work of a lifetime (1 Corinthians 15:31; Philippians 3:12). The seek-and-save church is not satisfied with merely a form of godliness; it wants to see the power of God at work in the hearts of people, giving them victory over sin, the fruit of the Spirit, and a desire to share the gospel.

This church also desires to affect the discipleship of all members, in accordance with Matthew 28:18–20. Its congregation isn’t satisfied with bringing people to church; it wants to sustain spiritual growth in all members and, especially, those new in the faith.

The seek-and-save mentality functions under the banner “save at any cost.” Whatever time, resources, and effort it takes to reach someone with the gospel, the sacrifice is willingly made.

Three Choices: One Best Answer

What type of church mentality does your church have? Is it a castle mentality, focused on preserving itself? Or is it the resort mentality, focused on drawing large crowds rather than making genuine conversions?

Or is it a seek-and-save church, focused on fulfilling the gospel commission? Don’t you want a church like that? If so, Amazing Facts has many resources to help you make it possible. Contact us today to let us know how we can help you.


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