Church Growth, Current Issues

The Modern Church and Its Diminishing Desire for Doctrine

February 12, 2014


The modern philosophy of church growth is speckled with flowery and vibrant colors of ambiguity.  Go into any contemporary church these days and you will find some basic tenets of welcome.  When I say “contemporary” I am not referring to a particular musical style or any specific religious movement.  From the progressively-liberal evangelical to the staunchly-conservative fundamentalist you will find some common denominators.  Neither group would easily agree that they have anything in common; but just below the surface their camaraderie exists.  What makes them similar is not necessarily what you see; it is what you DO NOT hear.

One word: doctrine.

Coffee shops, consumerism, self-centered songs, psychological jargon, and slick presentations abound.  The church works hard to keep up with the fast-paced, ever-changing marketing campaigns of the world, and as a result, pop culture convinces us to diminish the arduous and laborious topics of doctrine.  When making decisions about church membership, the following items have become the overriding factors of a parishioner’s final decision:

  • Exciting, active programs for children
  • Feel and comfort of building/campus
  • Likeability of pastor and his delivery
  • Music and worship style preferences
  • Ability to connect with others in a small setting

I am not appalled by what is on the list, but I am saddened by what is not on the list.  Because these are legitimate and justifiable concerns, the church at large focuses on accommodating the average visitor by creating an environment that meets his personal, familial, emotional, and even physical needs.  In this process, we neglect the most important and life-altering aspect of faith: our doctrine.

Castles in the Sand

We are good at building entities and creating styles, but if we diminish our doctrine we are doing nothing more than building church castles in the sand.  With every incoming tide we must recreate, rebuild, and reevaluate our methods and procedures.  We are constantly filling our ministerial buckets with grainy and sandy tactics only to watch our efforts fade away during every wind of change.

Doctrine stands.  It is the foundation of the church; it is the backbone of ministry.  Philosophy, tactics, and modern methods will bring in attendees, but only doctrine will produce and generate authentic believers who desire to reproduce themselves in the Kingdom of God.  We must stop measuring our success through the whims, likes, and dislikes of the unregenerate sinner and return to the call and charge of God to preach His Word.

Turn in the Coffee for a Sword

Bill Hull speaks to this issue directly when he contends, “The propensity to go with the flow of culture is weakening the church and separating us from the power of God. There are many churches that have reasoned themselves out of the script of God’s plan.  They have sold their birthright for the cheap transitory price of cultural acceptance.” Like Esau of old, we have traded away our doctrinal birthright for a shameful, tasteless version of Christianity.

May God give us some young men in every camp, every movement, and every denomination to lay down the modern double-espresso mentality of faith, and pick up their swords as soldiers in the battle for the truth: the truth of doctrine.


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