What if there was a library somewhere which kept a record of everything that has and will ever occur within the span of time? I’d like to think that in such a place, there would have to exist a book containing a small number of names. Names of those who stuck with a cause long enough to see it change the world around them.
A handful of noble men who lived and died for what they believed. Men whose actions went on to shape thousands of years of history long after they had perished.
Those are the kinds of men who show us what we have to live up to. Their causes being vastly different, they have but one important lesson to be learned. Finish what you’ve started.
I often wonder what gives someone the ability to see a cause to its end. I have been a part of many. Some of them finish what they have set out to finish. Some of them end almost as quickly as they began.
As a Christian, I feel it is of the utmost importance to understand exactly what it takes to see through what Christ has started among us. And it is in light of this that something very alarming has begun to make itself known to me.
We’re not finishing what’s been started.
Our goal as the body of Christ is to create disciples and yet all that exists is the worlds largest shopping mall. We sell a product to a disinterested consumer. Our trade has become the ability to sell ourselves as the next favorite end of the week hangout spot. Our service planning committees fill the air with cultural relevance, overly inviting atmospheres,and the infamous hour long Sunday service.
I still see churches sprout up almost everywhere. Ministries and community groups exist for those in every walk of life. Singles, couples, divorcees, children under the age of eighteen – they begin with the best of intentions, celebrating the enormous amounts of people that walk through their doors every Sunday. And yet the partitioners come and go. The faces change every month. They come, they listen, they participate, and are soon never to be heard from again. They do exactly what the average consumer has learned to do. Not because they are wrong, but because in order to keep them coming, we have resorted to treating them like consumers.
Why is this happening?
It’s happening because our attempts to “sell” the gospel message have outgrown our desire to preach it. A watered down and much lighter version of what we as Christians believe has emerged and it is wreaking its havoc. Although many have heard the gospel, we have neglected to explain it to them. We send them out in to the world with nothing to back up what they have been told on Sunday. Nothing to defend the faith that we have preached to them. Nothing to serve as an answer to those who are asking them what reason they have for their belief.
And although we may see 1,000 seats filled in our church on any given Sunday morning, we will see 1,000 disappear a month later because we have neglected to preach about the things we don’t find culturally relevant, overly inviting, or fitting into our perfectly arranged time slot.
In truth, our desire to see more people fill our pews has pushed out our absolute need to give them the ability to defend the faith Christ has entrusted us to preach to them. We have ignored 1 Peter 3:15 and as a result, we are finding ourselves unable to finish the job Christ has set before us.
Apologetics matters in church. Depth matters in church. Discipleship matters in Church.
Once we give our listeners a reason for the hope that lies within them, maybe we’ll start seeing them stick around. Maybe we’ll be able to finish the job.