Teleios recently performed a survey in six evangelical churches evaluating members’ impressions of their church leadership and the church itself. We presented choices that were positive in relationship to the member’s own maturity (e.g., prayer, fellowship and biblical preaching) and also those which might indicate immaturity, such as self-focused motivations. Fortunately, the negative rating responses were fewer than the more mature, biblically-based scores, but did represent a significant minority of members’ choices.
What are the implications of members using the church for their own agenda? We believe they are extensive and potentially severe. What do these people want? Here are some examples of what we gleaned from our survey.
Table: Most frequently cited ratings potentially indicating using church for a personal agenda
|I attend church to:|
|Providing a warm and comfortable social environment.||60%|
|Supporting my needs.||51%|
|Implementing my suggestions.||28%|
|I have an area(s) that I can control to assist the church.||13%|
Who are these people in the church? We do not know for certain but here are my best guesses:
- Earnest, suffering believers needing help from the church – There are afflicted Christians who are honestly seeking God. Although it may take time and emotion from the church leadership and caring church members, scripture tells us to ‘bear one another’s burdens’ (Galatians 6:2) and assist suffering believers back to spiritual health (1 Thessalonians 5:11-12).
- Young believers who do not know any better and need to be taught.
- Immature believers seeking emotional attention with no intent to change – These members may cause significant damage, sucking away people’s time and good grace to satisfy themselves without any intention to change their lives. They are not truly seeking God and provide little benefit the body of Christ.
- Active anti-church agenda – These members use the church as a personal power base, or to aggrandize themselves in some manner. They may cause harm at a minimum by distracting other members from seeking and serving God and at worst by creating divisions that could divide the church.
- Tares – Christ mentioned (Matthew 13:24-30) that tares would afflict the church. Tares are non-believers who come to church. They learn the jargon and how to fit socially while maintaining an ungodly agenda that may cause factions, waste people’s time, and distract the church from biblical pursuits. How do we recognize these people and what should we do about them?
The church is God’s plan to implement His purposes for this time period before Christ’s return. It should function efficiently with love as consistent with God’s word. Attendees who push their own non-Biblical agendas, whether for emotional comfort (with no desire to change) or for power, even covered in a pseudo-spiritual façade, represent a potential danger to the church.
We will discuss these important questions over the next several weeks. Our prayer is that this information will help you make your own church more biblically effective while attempting to lovingly bring destructive members into proper fellowship.
Thank you for joining me today. I pray for those of you who read my blog and that the blog might be encouragement to you in your daily life.