Posted On March 10, 2012

Can We Build the Church By Being Against the Church?

by | Mar 10, 2012 | The Gospel and the Church

It’s hard to read a Christian book or blog post or to hear a sermon without hearing some overt or implied criticism of some part of the evangelical Church as a whole. That’s not even counting the Twitter feeds of Christians.

I’m reading a terrific book right on the centrality of the gospel by one of my favorite author/preacher/bloggers. It’s a book that is both challenging me and inspiring me. But even this favorite author can’t resist the easy stereotype of “most churches” or “most Christians” or “The Church is . . . .” It seems nearly impossible for us to build up our ministries without having to use another expression of Christian ministry as a foil.

I know this because I do this myself. In my forthcoming book, I spend a considerable time pushing back against the pressure to be perfect among 2nd Generation kids. I felt (and still feel) it was a legitimate criticism. And yet I wonder at our motives. Are we genuinely concerned about the perceived blind spot in this generation’s evangelical movement or are we simply trying to provoke so as to build our own tribes? Are we being truly prophetic or are we trying to position ourselves as more pure than our ministry brothers?

These are questions worth asking ourselves, I think. Now please understand that this is not a plea for squishy, doctrine-free tolerance. I loathe the progressive movements that advocate tolerance for everyone except those whose beliefs they despise. Doctrine is important. Warning our flock about the dangers of aberrant theology is vital for their spiritual lives.

But we could all do better at examining our motives and check our facts. Scoring cheap points in a message or blog post or book based on broad stereotypes of the Body of Christ is both intellectually lazy and an insult to the Bride Christ loves.

I want to be faithful in shepherding my flock, which includes speaking the truth about what’s false. But I don’t want to build my ministry on the foundation of someone else’s failures (perceived or real). Let’s build our ministries on the unchanging Word of God as our source, on the radical nature of the gospel message. And let’s remember that we ourselves are fallible, flawed messengers easily prone to our own errors of judgment.

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2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    I was trepidatious as I came to read this post, as I can often be critical of the Church and often, very regrettably, I have been hypocritical in my judgement.

    Yet what you say is so vitally important – we must question our motives, and even as I type I am questioning why I am commenting and coming to the conclusion it is not all self-less.

    I am glad that you made the important point that we do need to stand up against false doctrines, yet it is also good you say that we should be careful in doing so, and not seek to ruin another so as to build our own ministries up.  We must be bound in love and unity and seek peace and reconciliation rather than a standpoint of “I’m right you’re wrong”, which can oftentimes only bring bitterness and division.

    Reply
    • Daniel Darling

      Yes, this post was written out of something I saw in my own heart, a desire to set myself apart from all who aren’t like me. And sometimes those motives are pure selfishness, pure desire to be seen as someone spiritual or great. 

      Reply

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