I have been talking to a couple of friends over the last few days about the concern we have for family members that are attending churches that simply are not very good. Sadly, many (not all) of the worst churches from a biblical perspective (is there any other criteria?) are packed-out every Sunday and some even hold services at multi-campuses for thousands. Though the problems with these particular churches are diverse in nature, there is a common theme and that is the leadership at these churches are not carrying out their pastoral duties faithfully. The Bible says, "preach the Word," but they opt for self-help psychobabble. The Word says, "preach Christ crucified and repentance for the forgiveness of sins," but they teach moralism with Jesus functioning as life-coach. The Scriptures teach that ministers should "teach the whole counsel of God's Word," but these ear-scratchers choose watered-down topical messages/series and twist God's Word by taking verses out of their context. The Lord says, "feed my sheep," but these leaders attempt to entertain 'seekers.' Peter referred to church leaders as under-shepherds, but many of today's pastors see themselves as CEO's of a spiritual business. On and on we could go.
There is a lot at stake in all of this . . . nothing short of the eternal condition of souls. The visible evangelical church is very sick and is not receiving the healing words of the Great Physician. I wonder if medical doctors were as careless and deceitful as these church leaders if they would be able to keep practicing medicine for long? Certainly the word would get out concerning their medical negligence. Their patients would be perpetually ill, they would be sued for malpractice, and eventually get stripped of their licenses. What is perplexing in the spiritual realm is that the malpractice of pastors and elders actually works in growing churches. In fact, one church growth proponent guarantees his pastoral understudies a 20% increase in growth if they adopt his spiritual marketing approach!
Today's post on Unashamed Workman has a searching J.C. Ryle quote from the 19th century that describes well the malpractice of pastors. In a nutshell they are flatterers rather than ambassadors of the Word and tell sick spiritual patients that they are well when they need to hear about their sin and Christ's redemptive work. I tremble to think of these spiritual marketers standing before the Head of the church and giving an account of how they handled His truth, kept unbelievers comfortable in their sins, and harmed His precious bride. If you are in one of these churches, you need to find a Bible-teaching church where the leaders will truly care for your soul by feeding you the Word, warning you of what is false, and preaching Christ every week.