While I do not consider myself an expert in anything, I do have a few years of preaching experience under my belt. Over the past 30 years of working with the church, preaching across the country, talking with elders, preachers, and members, I’ve identified a few challenges the church needs to work at overcoming. What do you think about my list? Do you agree?
Preaching For “The Choir” But Not To “The Choir.”
The Church doesn’t need professional pulpiteers hired to entertain and please the masses. What the church needs are men of conviction who will preach the truth in love, in season and out of season. We need men who are not content to simply preach “for” the church, but to preach “to” the church, challenging her ethics, calling for repentance, upholding God’s doctrine, and leading the church out of mediocrity.
Youth Ministry That Caters To The Strong & Beautiful.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of catering to the advantaged. The first century church stumbled here too. James had to remind the church that their desire to cater to the rich didn’t make sense since it was the rich who were oppressing the church. They were blinded by status. The rich, the beautiful, the strong and athletic…these people are “easy to love.” But often, they are the very ones who feel self-sufficient because of their advantages in life. We need youth ministry that doesn’t ignore the poor, unpopular, and discarded, and equally reaches out to them as well as the strong and beautiful.
Shepherds Who Shepherd The Flock, But Not The “Fence Jumpers.”
It’s easy to oversee those who are compliant, but shepherds must also be willing to go, search for, find, and safely return the sheep who have left the flock and jumped the fence. Elders can easily “busy themselves” with the compliant, but if no time is left to go after the “fence jumpers,” then an elderships’ time-management needs to be reconsidered.
Deacons Who Work at Not Working.
Through the years, I have heard from elders who were frustrated because they couldn’t get the deacons to work. Consequently, elders find themselves doing work the deacons should be doing, and the work that elders should be doing goes undone. Becoming a deacon is not a “title;” it’s not an “election to an office.” It is an agreement to become a special servant of the church. When a deacon stops serving in that special capacity, he stops being a deacon, for it’s a work, not a title.
Members Who Maintain the Premises, But Won’t Maintain Their Promises.
The church is stymied when the membership thinks their job is to maintain the premises. When the bulk of the congregation’s work revolves around the building, grounds, fellowship meals, activities, and weekly worship, the church will suffer. The church needs to remember to maintain the promise they made to make Jesus Lord of their lives. That promise demands a level of commitment that has to be taken outside of the premises and into the world.
While these aren’t the only challenges the church faces, they do identify five that we can begin working on today. I long for the day when the greatest challenge the church faces comes from the Devil and not ourselves.