Let’s Not Just “Play” Church!

Let’s Not Just “Play” Church!

I’ve seen it way too often. No, I’ve experienced it way too often. Too many church bodies in America are merely “playing” church. What do I mean by that statement? Well, if you will allow me to crawl up on my soap box for a few moments I’ll be happy to explain. Please be mindful that I am merely relating observations that I have witnessed during the thirty nine years that I have been a Christian. It is not my intent to be legalistic or judgmental. I am merely pointing out some practices that I have witnessed that conflict with Biblical truths.

In many churches throughout America it seems that the congregation shows up to greet each other and listen to a preacher preach. They then go home and go on with their lives unmoved and unchanged. Don’t let the Pastor be moved by the Holy Spirit and go a few minutes over the traditional time limit. There are restaurants to visit and ball games to watch on television.  There are no new people who attended church because no one invited them to attend with them. There are no people getting saved because no one invited the lost to attend church to hear the Pastor’s message. There are none to be baptized because no new people were invited to be lead to salvation by the Pastor’s message or anyone in the church body by their witness. The people of the church seem to be happy with the way things are. There is no need to change anything. Often times the Elders and the Deacons have the final say regarding church business and the operations of the church and services, over ruling on anything that the Pastor may suggest to change. In fact, the Pastor is often times “handcuffed” by the wishes of the Board of Elders and the Deacons. The church does nothing to reach out to the community yet they manage to have pot luck dinners on a regular basis when there are those who are hungry, physically and spiritually, just outside their walls. They do not pray for their Pastor and his family. If the truth be known, they hardly pray at all. There are no initiatives to go out on mission and reach the lost in the surrounding area and forget sending a missionary to a foreign country. If there is a new convert, there are seldom any attempts to mentor them or disciple them in a meaningful fashion that they can understand. Too many times I’ve seen the new convert lose interest, overwhelmed by the seemingly impossible task of “what to do next” and merely fade away without anyone to check up on them. Is there any attempt to bring relief to widows and orphans? Many churches are content to rely on the funds sent in to denominational headquarters to do this work for them.

I’m not saying that every church is guilty of all these observations or that these observed behaviors apply to every church body. Nothing could be further from the truth! However; I have experienced too many Christians who would rather “rust out” sitting in a church pew than “wear out” performing a service for others. I must admit, in all honesty, that I was once one of those people. There is an old saying that one hundred percent of the work in the church is performed by only ten to twenty percent of those who attend. I would have to say that those figures are generous to say the least.

Matthew 20:28 tells us that we are not within the church body to be served by others in the church. Jesus said, (28) “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many.” (NASB95). Do you serve in the local church?

Jesus made mention in Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; and Luke 19:46 that His house would called a house of prayer. Each time Jesus mentions this He is referring to Isaiah 56:7. How many churches do you know of that hold events specifically for prayer? How many churches do you know that hold events specifically for the poor? How many churches do you know that render services and funds to the community to win people to Christ?

Elders and Deacons are not entities intended to corral a Pastor to serve them or their perceived best interests. Not always, but usually the Pastor is a man of God who outshines all in prayer, study, and caring for the flock. Yet many churches operate in a leadership governed in this manner. I believe that this is not biblical. I have found no Scriptural references to support it. Acts 6:1-5 supports the belief that Deacons are servants of the church so that the Word of God continues to be preached and that prayer in doing so should not cease. Is your church governed in this manner? Of course, no one man should be placed upon a pedestal and given supreme power over the body of Christ. Yet, nowhere in Scripture is it supported that a board of individuals should beat down the man of God either. Elders and Deacons are there to support the Pastor and serve the church. They are there to serve as wise counsel to the man of God. There should not be power struggles within the church!

Is your church any of these? Is your church ALL of these? I suspect that there are few churches that are NONE of these.

I am not bashing ANY individual or ANY church body. Again, I am making observations of churches, to some extent my own, over almost four decades of discipleship. Are we going to church to perform functions of the Church Jesus Christ has been building or, are we merely “playing” church? That is a question that each of us needs to ponder.  It only takes the first step of one to set the example and lead the many.

These are just some thoughts as I close out my day. God Bless!

In His Grip,

Lonnie Richardson

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