THE NUMBER ONE CRISIS IN THE AMERICAN CHURCH

It threatens the church more than drugs, pornography, Islamic terror, fake news or any impending world calamity.  It is the number one crisis in the American Church.

Left unchecked, it can’t be overstated how much damage it will do.  Yet, as dangerous as it is—and this is the maddening part—it is utterly curable, and preventable.   Tragically, we may not have the heart or the stomach to solve this crisis.

So, who, or what is the culprit?  Let me ask you: Who is using up vital resources? Who is driving pastors into deadly compromise—or out of the ministry entirely?  Who is responsible for shutting down, derailing, and destroying the things that matter to the Christian faith?  The answer is painful…are you even sure you want to know?

The villain is a monster of our own making.  University professors may have invented the easily triggered, woefully self-righteous, self-centered, quivering in their safe place, snow flake.

We have concocted something much worse.  We created the Low Impact-High Maintenance Believer or LIHMB.  They are a monstrosity of the church growth—by any means necessary—movement.  They have created the perfect storm.

How do I explain them to you? Think of the intensive care unit.  There is a tube up the nose.  There is an I.V. in the arm pumping fluid, or painkillers.  There is a heart monitor, and a breathing machine.  They all serve the same purpose.  They keep the patient alive…artificially.  Many church programs today do that.

The difference between hospital and church care is machines in the hospital are for those who can’t do for themselves…in the church, they are for those who won’t do for themselves. 

They are why money for soul winning and giving to the poor is (pardon my pun) going down the tubes.  They consume all available staff and resources.

Because they are fickle, they started a price war between churches—discounted discipleship.  Pastors compete to have the shortest service, most convenient parking, best coffee, and the least offensive sermon.  Suddenly church is speed dating.

We now have an odd irony.  Church used to be about getting people to God. Now it seems to be about protecting them from God.

The Bible prophesied LIHMBs:  2 Timothy 4: 3 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

They can’t handle life.  They can’t fathom self-denial.  They hold preachers hostage to programs that consume—sermons they hate preaching, and shallow audiences.

LIHMBs are the reason many godly people have given up on Sunday mornings.  But LIHMBs do even more damage.  They create a special kind of discouragement.  Think of the man or woman of God who pastors by the Book.  They see a church use stunts and explode overnight.  An immature believer says, “I am leaving, you don’t have what I need.   A heartsick vessel of God wonders, “am I a fool for sticking to my convictions?  Is it true that the pure Gospel anointed by the Holy Spirit can’t grow a church today without gimmicks?”

Daniel 11:32 says, “the people who know their God will be strong and carry out great exploits.”  The LIHMB version should read, “the people who think they know God will be weak and carry out nothing.”  Actually the Bible does say, “Having a form of Godliness but denying the power thereof.”  -2 Timothy 3:5

Like I said, the answer is so simple it is maddening.   Dear leader: 

1. REPENT!  Drain the swamp.  Clear your heart of toxic ambition and carnal goals.

2. Meet with your deacon possessed leaders and drop the gauntlet: “We are going to return the control of this Church to the Holy Spirit—center it on Christ, and let the chips fall where they may.”

3. Expect! Expect many to leave.  Expect the presence of God to return.  Expect a whole new crop of true disciples to arrive ready to serve.  Expect turn away crowds coming early for the right reasons.  Expect them to stay and grow.

Is it true that the pure Gospel anointed by the Holy Spirit can’t grow a church today without gimmicks?   To the tens of millions of Pentecostals in emerging nations who regularly see miracles, and multitudes saved, and filled with the Holy Spirit…that is a silly lie.

There are two massive reasons for us to have hope for real disciples, real revival and real impact on our culture:  The Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ.  

The Holy Spirit is tasked with giving us power, strategy and a mouth and wisdom that our adversaries cannot gainsay or resist.  He was sent to grow the Christian movement.  The most talented church marketer pales as a pathetic substitute for the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit.

The Church offers the most irresistible attraction of the universe:  Jesus Himself!  Phillip Schaff said: “This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed and Napoleon; without science and learning, He shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, He spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, He set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times.”  Amen.