I have been on a quest to discover the root of the church’s trouble. We struggle to reach the lost even to the point of finding ourselves talking about a “war on Christmas”. Who would have thought this trend of revoking “Christmas” from the public forum would become a real threat? Not me! Christian influence is declining. I don’t believe the Gospel lost its power or that the Holy Spirit is less active. The only conclusion is that the church is losing touch with the energy of its founding.
Many wrestle to find the bitter root that hinders the church from producing good fruit. My previous conclusion was that the church sold out to a marketing, sensation-based approach to “doing” church. That is a part of the church’s problem, no doubt. The problem is more subtle however.
Some erroneously suggest that political freedom allows material decadence to pervert the church. Life in the American church is too cushy, seats are too comfortable, buildings too well decorated. Oppressed churches in oppressive countries like China are exploding with vibrant new believers. Persecution crushes the church in some places. Persecution is not the answer!
Subtle changes do occur when the church has peace and political security. Persecution pushes the church into a micro church emphasis. The micro church emphasizes individual conversion, faith, trust, and evangelism. The free church faces the inevitable broadening and institutionalizing of its activities. After an extended time of freedom, the American church fully embraced an “emphasize big” strategy. Micro church focuses on the core foundations of Christian faith and requires individual believers to carry them out. In order to keep Christian people from thinking in terms of what the Church can do rather than what they can do, we must emphasize small.
The church faces obscurity if it does not change. “Emphasizing the small”, the micro church, individual responsibility of each believer with the Gospel restores the vigor and personal responsibility with which the Gospel pushes outward. “Emphasizing the large” continues the cycle of consolidating the personal responsibility of each believer in favor of institutionally motivated Gospel activities. This is the bitter root. Emphasizing the large causes a loss of perspective. Emphasizing the small encourages grass roots advancement of the Gospel to neighborhoods, workplaces, and friends.