Chapter five of Francis Chan’s “Letters to the Church” is on converting our idea of why we participate in church life from consumer to producer. It is a shift from passively consuming to actively participating in the mission.
This is such an important shift for our churches. We need to raise expectations of people. This isn’t some new standard. It is an old standard – it is found in the Bible itself. I was reminded, when reading this chapter, when Jesus said this in Luke 17:10, “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants. We have only done our duty.'”
God expects us to serve. God expects all the parts of the church body, the body of Christ, to operate in concert with each other (1 Cor 12). Doing this is how God designed his church to operate. We have turned it into a professionalized system of passive participants – come and listen, come and receive, get your cup filled week after week, if you choose to attend…but do we come to serve?
As a minister the resounding answer is, yes! Of course I come to serve. But that is expected of me. That is just me doing my job. Is service expected of everyone? It seems it isn’t if we allow people to go for months and years without lifting a finger while other people are getting burnt out.
Chan wrote this on page 89, “We have become too easily satisfied. We are content if a person leaves pleased. God wants them awed.”
Have we lowered our standards? Are we in line with what we find in the early church? Not just in forms of worship but in expectation, involvement, and our priorities?
I really am asking! Please let me know what you think.
If we are settling, and we recognize that to be the case, why do we seem to have to keep on settling over and over, year after year? What is stopping us from something new, fresh, and biblical?
Chan asks a very important question on p. 92 that points to a deficiency in the institutional church model,
“Are we creating the space necessary for every person to feel like he or she can be used by God to encourage and build up others? Have we made our churches so professional and impressive that only the polished few can contribute?”
Great questions! I have long wanted a worship service like we read about in 1 Cor 14 where each person comes with something to offer.
Chan ends the chapter asking how far can a church go before it is no longer a church (p.96) and how far can a Christian go before they are no longer a Christian (p.97). He also mentions another issue that has been on my radar for quite some time – that churches raise up leaders to have other, larger churches, offer them more money and snatch them away (p.100). I fail to see that is how things worked in the early church. It is all very corporate.
When you make the church like a corporation you make the Christians into consumers and vice versa. We can and must do better!
Let me know what you thought about this chapter. You can also follow the conversation on the Facebook page.