Have you ever considered that the sins you are preaching against are ones that you commit?
By Megan Bailey
When we think of the church, we do not typically think of its shortcomings and failures. Instead, we envision a place of worship that praises God and is holy, and therefore is perfect. Just because God watches over a church, however, doesn’t mean that it’s without sin.
Have you ever stopped to think about the sins your church may be promoting? Without even realizing it, many churches across America do have problems that is ultimately hurting their congregation, and God’s mission to spread the Word. These sins have become a part of the church so much so that they have now become acceptable.
Here are some sins that your church may be harboring and ways that you can help change it for the better.
Placing judgment on others.
While your church may say it welcomes everyone through its doors, the truth is the congregation is silently judging at anyone who doesn’t fit in perfectly. It can be based off of their age, how they look, the size of their family, portions of their beliefs, or the like. Instead of spending time getting to know the newcomers and directing them to areas of the church where they would flourish, the church ignores them. It makes the newcomers feel awkward and unwanted, and therefore leave to find something better.
This is not the way that God had intended things to go. The church should be a place where anyone is welcome to come in, hear the Word of God, and praise Him with their brothers and sisters in Christ. If you see that your church doesn’t open their arms, don’t be afraid to step in and say hi to that new person. God may use you as a tool to help them become a part of the congregation.
A church getting comfortable in its ways might not sound that bad at first, but when the church doesn’t try to grow and evolve then Christianity starts to fade. Instead of reacting to the environment and community around them, the church gives the same drawn out sermons that everyone has heard over and over again. The church doesn’t think to offer a new Bible study for millennials or singles for example, because they are only focused on the same routine they have always had. The mission of the church is no longer to share the Word of God with the world, but rather to only share it with those who are already in the church pews. God wants the church to break out of its comfort zone so encourage yours to try something new.
Thinking God should be feared.
One way that many churches try to recruit new members is by telling society that if they do not come to church, then they will end up in hell. Yet the phrases “do not fear” and “do not be afraid” appear 365 times in the Bible. God does not want you to fear Him, change or growth. God wants you to trust Him in everything that you do, and obey Him even when you are worried. This is all because He loves you very deeply, and not because He wants you to be afraid. The church should create an environment that promotes positivity and love, and not fear. It is only through this that the congregation will be able to create a real, intimate relationship with God.
Praising people instead of God.
Within a church, there are many ways that you can stand out and be recognized by the members of your congregation. You might be a part of the praise band every Sunday, or hold a Bible Study for single moms. The majority of the time, these are great positions to be in and they help you become a vital part of the church. However, they also open up the door for flattery. We have to admit, as humans we love to be praised and adored; just look at social media.
Jesus doesn’t want those in leadership positions of the church to take the credit for the congregations praise. The claps for the band after a beautiful hymn should be thanking God, rather than only celebrating the ones who played. The ones who played should be thanking God for their talents to perform in the first place, and not accept the clapping as a form of approval.
Seeing church as an obligation.
We have all been there. It’s Sunday morning, you are feeling exhausted from the weekend, and you want to get through the morning sermon as fast as possible so you can run to the fellowship hall for brunch. While it does happen from time to time, if a congregation only sees church as an obligation, rather than a place to grow and flourish, then it’s not a successful church at all.
We do not want to be apathetic towards God and His Word, because then the world sees Christianity as being boring. If you were an atheist and saw a miserable family dragging themselves into church each Sunday, would you want to convert? Of course not. The church should be a place that you want to go to and be a part of. Work towards creating an environment that is fun, passionate, and inviting.
What God envisioned for the church is crystal clear in the Bible, but many churches fail to live up to His standards. By understanding the ways that churches can fail their congregations and community, we can begin to change for the better. What areas of your church need improving? Don’t be afraid to suggest new and fun ways to reinvigorate your sanctuary so that it can become more than just four white walls.Megan Bailey is the Social Media Specialist and Content Producer for Beliefnet. She attended James Madison University where she received a degree in psychology.