(to see part one, go here)
So how is it that christians become so apathetic to living differently than the world? Why do we choose to live mediocre lives rather than to be "peculiar people"? My short answer to that big question is - leadership. With a lack of strong leadership in the home and a lack of strong leadership in churches, each generation is becoming more mediocre than the last.
Recently the movie, Fireproof, was brought to our area in some local churches (great movie, BTW). I was excited about the idea of seeing this film with my husband when I first saw the posters on community boards. It wasn't too long before a radio ad gave more details - specifically the admission fee that each church was charging to enter and view the movie.
Does anyone else see the problem here? Local churches were charging a fee to enter the building!
And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep and the oxen; and poured out the changers money, and overthrew the tables;
And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.
This isn't the first time churches have dissappointed me by turning into marketplaces. Several years back a homeschooling conference that our ladies' group previously attended changed their venue to a local church. There was no fee to enter the conference (which is why I had always liked it) but the display hall for buying books was also in the church. When I emailed the organizer of the event to clarify that they were actually intending on selling within the church, her return email curtly explained that sometimes these decisions were necessary to carry out important christian business.
What are the leaders of these churches thinking? If the churches showing the Fireproof movie wanted to encourage couples for God's glory, then why not trust that He will ensure the cost of the film is covered? If homeschooling is to be encouraged as God's best for our children, then why blaspheme His house? These aren't community centers, after all.
I know, I know. I've heard the excuses. The cost of the film was likely very high and alot of churches simply don't have the funds to avoid asking the fee.
Then don't show the movie.
Better yet, teach the church members to tithe in a biblical manner.
Even better, trust that God will provide for all the church's needs as He sees is needed.
But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
Too often we confuse our children by teaching them that the Bible is the end answer to everything, but then we just ignore the inconvenient passages.
'Let's follow the scriptural outline for keeping the sabbath holy, but ignore any reference to keeping His house for worship only.'
If the church leaders don't believe it, how can it be expected to be lived out in the lives of the membership?
I know how it happens to some church leaders. In my small town there are well over 2 dozen churches to choose from to attend. There is a steady marketing scheme happening at several of them as they compete for numbers in the congregation. It is very common for people to attend one church for several years than, due to some offense or just boredom, join the next church down the road. It is practices like this that can cause a church leader to join in on the competition - to start pandering to the popular vote to avoid losing membership.
That is only one excuse. It isn't good enough for God.
As a church member of my local church, I support my leadership. That does not mean I agree with everything that the leadership chooses. It means I understand that the leadership answers to God and I will not be part of the cause for falling. I will also not be part of the excuse for mediocrity in my church.
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
Hebrews 13:17 (emphasis mine)
When a church leader chooses the wrong path, I believe God will provide the consequences. Does that mean he should be removed from the leadership office? Yes, and it is important that godly men follow up within the church. Pastors/elders are only men, open to temptation like the rest of us. We need to forgive them for mistakes and offenses. We need to show mercy when they repent. We need to encourage them when they are leading on the "narrow path" and follow when they lead our churches by biblical standards.
Does your pastor have your support to lead God's house in a biblical manner? Do you believe he should have it? Is your church maintaining itself as the house of the Lord, or is it a community center/marketplace?
Good questions for all christians.