You saw the title so you know what this is but so there is no mistaking it, I want to make myself perfectly clear.
The problem with American Christianity is
IT’S A BUSINESS.
13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” 17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”
Yet if there is any confusion of what I mean when I refer to American Christianity, I will now address the 5 principal errors of its central authority, the American Church.
1. The American Church teaches us that the fear of loss of money is acceptable.
“God will restore your finances!”.
2. The American Church teaches us to fear our loss of friends.
“God will heal your broken relationships!”
3. The American Church teaches us to fear the brokenness of our families.
“God will renew your marriage and restore your children!”.
4. The American Church teaches us to fear for our own well-being.
“If you are sick, Pray and God will heal you!”
5. The American Church teaches us to fear the Church itself.
“If you’re not coming to Church, you are not being obedient!”
Many of us have grown up hearing and pressing into these things, believing in these fears.
Yet the fact is that in our fear of all these different things, the fear of God himself takes a backseat.
The problem with the American Church is that it so often appears to tell us to not fear these things yet what it really says to us is “it’s okay to be afraid of losing money, it’s okay to fear broken relationships, and it’s okay to be afraid of suffering because since God loves you, he’ll just give you everything you want as long as you believe he will”.
What I promise that you have never heard any pastor say is “Maybe God won’t ever give you the things you think you need to survive happily like financial security, good relationships, or freedom from suffering because once you come to know him well enough, those things won’t matter to you anymore”.
No, a pastor would never tell his congregation something like that because, at the end of the day, he would be asking them to truly and completely deny themselves so that they could rise above the world by living the love of God and in doing that, they would get some very reluctant tithing.
Yeah, I said it, they wouldn’t pay their tithes very generously if we actually made them uncomfortable and challenged them, American Church Management 101.
Because at the end of the day that’s what it all boils down to, money.
Only ministers with money get the biggest buildings, only pastors with generous tithers get the worldwide streams, only preachers with donators get the nice houses.
The American Church is a business where only the marketable and sellable versions of God make a profit while the God that is sincere and true finds nothing but half-hearted followers and ambitious and fame-obsessed leaders.
This mentality is how the church has evolved.
Over time, the pastors and preachers that had a difficult but necessary message to give to their congregation were drowned out by the pastors and preachers with charismatic personalities and bold public speaking skills.
The Church became more about a show for entertainment than about an experience of spiritual growth because let’s face it, it’s easier to sell showmanship over substance and it’s easier to give money to the things you want rather than the thing you need.
In this, the American Church developed its business model, frequently give people the energetic hope that they want rather than the substance and knowledge that they need because in this the American Church is able to justify itself by saying that it is doing the work of the Lord, but still gets to make an honest buck while doing it.
And while some may argue that it’s okay because the money the Church makes goes to a good cause, the reality is that most of Church’s upper members often live like kings while many people in their communities and in their cities are still starving.
Yet to those who feel I’m being too hysterical, answer this.
As big as the Church is in America, why is there still poverty?
No, no, no, that’s getting off way too easy.
As big as the Church is in America, why do we have a 40% divorce rate?
As big as the Church is in America, why do we still have violence in our schools?
As big as the Church is in America, why do we want to kill our enemies in the middle east?
As big as the Church is in America, why allow fo sex advertised to our children?
As big as the Church is in America, why are we so afraid to suffer for the will of God?
As big as the Church is in America, why is it so desirable to have shallow relationships that tear us down rather than build us up?
As big as the Church is in America, why do we have an industry of pornography?
As big as the Church is in America, why do we have businesses that value profit over the lives of its employees?
As big as the Church is in America we do we watch the television that poisons the minds of its viewers with the allure of sexual immorality, violence, and greed?
As big as the Church is in America, we do we have colleges where underage drinking and sexual assault are considered unavoidable?
As big as the Church is in America, we do we have women who feel ashamed of themselves for looking unattractive?
As big as the Church is in America, we do we have men who treat women like objects?
As big as the Church is in America, we do we have boys who hate their fathers and have fathers that don’t care about their boys?
As big as the Church is in America, we do we have an abundance of dying families?
As big as the Church is in America, we do we have people who resort to suicide?
As big as the Church is in America, we do we acknowledge the practice of sex before marriage?
As big as the Church is in America, we do we have such a fear of money that crime is able to exist?
As big as the Church is in America, we do we have racism and discrimination?
As big as the Church is in America, we do we have grown men who would rather fight and kill each other than to resolve their conflict with understanding and reason?
As big as the Church is in America, we do we have women that stand by and watch while their husbands kill each other instead of stepping in like they know they should?
If the American Church is so great and so without flaw, then why?
I’ll tell you why.
It’s because the once sincere and respectable American Church became popular and in its popularity, it eventually became mainstream, and in its mainstream status, it lost sight of what is was supposed to be because it’s true purpose became shrouded in a cloak of wealth, fame, and notoriety.
And while many will try to deny it, the fact of the matter is that if you a member of a church and especially if you are a church leader, these charges are on you.
The American Church has become too much about hope and not enough about foundational knowledge.
How can you speak God’s words if you don’t study what to say?
How can you do God work if you don’t know how to build?
How can you learn God’s will if you don’t know how to read?
No, you can’t love God without knowledge, it’s impossible.
It’s the Churches responsibility to not only the people in America but the entire world to equip us with the knowledge we need to live our lives the best way we possibly can, through the love of God alone.
But rather than do that, the modern Church has instead subdued its congregation with the ignorance of the true will of God and empty promises that God will grant our every wish that, when we really think about it, don’t bring us any closer to God at all, only to our twisted and corrupted version of him.
Whether this was done intentionally or unintentionally or committed for the true sake of the love of God or for the desire for fame, wealth, and respect on thing remains certain.
This needs to stop NOW.
The tough reality is that a church service should look more like a college lecture than a dance party.
We don’t need the things we enjoy doing or make us feel good, we need the things that help us grow.
And growing isn’t fun.
And growing isn’t always profitable.
Yet none the less, it’s what the people of God need.
If you’re a regular Church goer reading this, please show it to your pastor.
If you’re a pastor reading this, make every sermon you preach worthy of being your last and teach your congregation about the things that God wants, or doesn’t want, for them in their lives regardless of if they will always enjoy it or not.
The Church is like a medicine that we need to take to help us live, and like any good medicine, it won’t always be easy to take.
The harsh reality is that the medicine you water down and sugar-coat will never really save anyone it will only resonate within them for about a day until it is forgotten within a week.
The things we forget can never save us, only give us false hope.
Only the things that hurt us force us to remember them.
And only the things that we remember can have a chance at saving us.
So teach the truth.
20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
God wants us to be poor if we love money more than we love him.
God wants us to be sick if we love our health more than we love him.
God wants our relationships to fail if we love them more than we love him.
God wants our lives to be ruined if we love ourselves more than we love him.
God wants us to be his alone.
There are no expectations and there are no compromises because when we make our lives more important than God, he allows our lives to become a living hell (Jeremiah 2), that is the simple truth.
But he does this because he loves us.
He does this because if we are afraid of losing our money, or our health, or our relationships, for all of our lives, we will live the rest of our lives subjugated by the countless fears of the world.
And what we fear has power over us, that’s why the Lord tells us to only fear him (Luke 12:4-6).
If we fear many things, the fear of the Lord is shared with the fear of the world, and that’s no way to live, just look where doing that got us.
Therefore my charge is simple.
If you preach that God will fix our finances if we just believe that he will, stop.
If you preach that God will heal us if we just pray to him enough, stop.
If you preach that God will restore our relationships because we feel he owes us good family and friends, stop.
Just stop, because, in your teaching, you’re missing the point.
In teaching people these things, you create an image of God as being a supporter of our desires and a giver of meaningless blessings.
It’s that kind preaching that takes the focus away from the will of God and puts it on our own will and our own desires.
And I get it, people seem more responsive when we preach that way, but the fact is, it’s killing America, and it needs to stop now.
The truth is that when we truly put God first and put our own desires aside, and these problems no longer matter to us as a result of our love for him, only then will God take them away, yet only as he sees fit.
Teach people to live their lives for God alone and deny to continuously deny themselves, and if the case is that you find that to be a difficult thing to do, then you need to take break from teaching others and get your own priorities straightened out because the people who listen to you depend on you for wisdom and guidance in their walk with the Lord, and the fact is, you may not even know what that looks like right now.
Nobody ever found Jesus by running and shouting and screaming hallelujah, they only found him because they were told how to find him by someone who knew him.
Make a change where change is necessary, your people need you.
The American Church has to do better, the world is depending on it.
I believe it can, and though I come across as being harsh, it’s only because I care so much and I believe we are capable of so much more.
So put the charisma and bravado aside and start speaking and listening to the things that challenge you and shape you and compel you to grow, because that’s the only place you’ll ever find God.
“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”.
That verse is true because Christianity requires us to deny ourselves and to live meagerly so that our neighbors can be propped up but if we really want to find God, it’s completely necessary.
If you believe that the church really can get better, pass this message on.
Friends, family, other church goers, and especially ministers and pastors, everyone needs to know about this because the only way change can ever be made is through awareness of an issue.
If we stand together, we can create a better future for our churches and in doing so, create a better future for our country.