It threatens the church more than drugs, pornography, Islamic terror, fake news or any impending world calamity. 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. But, tragically, we may not have the heart or the stomach to solve this crisis.
So, who or what is the culprit? It’s not a situation it is a person. A person we cater to in all our programs. 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 snow flake, quivering in their safe place, but we have concocted something much worse. We have created the Low Impact-High Maintenance Believer, or the LIHMB. They are a monstrosity that has been created by 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 fluids, 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 are doing the same thing.
The difference between hospital care and church care is that machines in the hospital are for those who can’t do anything for themselves…in the church, they are for those who won’t do anything 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 the time and resources of the church staff.
Because they are fickle, they have started a price war between churches—discounted discipleship. Pastors compete to have the shortest service, the most convenient parking, the best coffee, and the least offensive sermon—and suddenly church has become 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 in 2 Timothy 4:3: “For the time will come when people 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 the concept of self-denial. They hold preachers hostage to all-consuming programs and sermons they hate preaching. Where there used to be a room full of disciples eager to participate, now there is merely an audience.
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 the church across the street use the latest 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, cannot 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.”
The solution is simple, dear leader:
-Meet with your deacon-possessed leaders and drop the gauntlet: “We are going to return the control of this Church to the Holy Spirit. We are going to center it on Christ, and let the chips fall where they may.”
-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 that arrive early, for the right reasons.
Is it true that the “pure Gospel, anointed by the Holy Spirit, can’t grow a church today without gimmicks?” Tens of millions of Pentecostals in emerging nations, who regularly see miracles and multitudes filled with the Holy Spirit, prove that to be 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.
The Holy Spirit is tasked with giving us power, strategy, and a mouth and wisdom that our adversaries cannot contradict or resist. The Holy Spirit 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!
Charles Spurgeon wrote: “King of kings, and Lord of lords, the “Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father. The Prince of Peace.” “Yea, he is altogether lovely.” There are no flaws in Him. Jesus is lovely in the highest degree. Jesus is as lovely to my heart as to my head, as dear as He is good. He is lovely to my hopes: are they not all in Him? Is not this my expectation—to see Him as He is? But He is lovely to my memory too: did He not pluck me out of the net? As David puts it, “My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God”—the whole of the man seeking after the whole of the Savior; the whole Savior sweet and inexpressibly precious to the man’s entire being. May it be so with you and with me. Oh, to love Him wholly, and to love Him only, so that we have no eyes for other beauty, no heart for other loveliness since He fills our souls, and is to us “altogether lovely.”