You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
Vala Mal Doran noted that anybody trying to mount a revolution needs three things: money, power, and influence. Christianity gets a weekly influx of money. Christianity also has a lot of power and influence, usually tied toward the Republican spectrum of the government, but they also have a few Democrats and Independents. In the last say twenty five years, Christianity has played a major role in which bills are or aren’t chosen. Politicians now have to think about how to say their mind carefully so as not to offend their more religious supporters.
So with all of that in it’s favor, why does Christianity so very often fail? Is it choosing the wrong battles to fight? Is it sending the wrong message? Has it walked away from it’s original purpose? I think something has been wrong about Christianity ever since the focus on Jesus was replaced with a focus of doing things for Jesus or in the name of Jesus. To me, he feels sort of like the logo on the side of the product. The image you use to identify the thing, but not necessarily what the thing is; sort of like how the image of the man on Quaker Oats products doesn’t prepare you for the oats to be nothing at all like Quakers themselves.
The Christianity I see on television, the TBNs, the CBNs, show me a world where 24/7 the word of God is available if I’d just support these programs with a tax-deductible donation they would send me a gift, a cross necklace or some such thing. Even on the regular channels I can tune into local churches where I can see how they do church. My church broadcasts it’s service over the radio; still others the internet. Still, for all that effort, much of the programming is limited to people who are already the sort to watch church incessantly. Christian music has gotten better about reaching outside of it’s corner of the world by being somewhat similar to the music the world responds to.
But history has shown that isolationist tendencies allowed for some terrible things to happen on the church’s watch. All of that power, all of that influence, all of that money wasted on building a bigger building while people out there go without the basic necessities. I’m reminded of my former church that built on the same corner as two existing churches. Perhaps they thought they could reach people that just weren’t attracted to the other two churches, but having moved so far away from their original site, they lost many members that couldn’t go that distance. They lost the ability to minister to their old community.
It also seems that Celebrity Christianity is fraught with controversies. Once brilliant Christian thinkers become disgraced former leaders. Their epic falls from the limelight often in some way harm those around them. Recent problems have destroyed multiple churches for their foundations were faultily built upon the celebrity that they used to hold up. These celebrities influence the teachings in average churches. Their books oftentimes replace Bible studies. Perhaps that is why both ultimately fall from grace, but it is good money while it works.
Power is difficult dynamic to narrow down in Christianity. In terms of government, the church takes a page out of the world’s playbook. So it comes to no surprise that the problems the world faces is also true in Christianity. Both systems feature disproportional representational hierarchical leadership. The average Christian will never attend a denominational conference for pastors to vote procedural matters or make decisions. They have to trust that their pastors believe the same things they do and will make their votes accordingly. But statistics are showing us that an overwhelming number of our leaders are disillusioned about the faith; overworked, without support, frustrated, poor, etc. it seems that the ones that are meant to equip believers are not equipped themselves for the task. Then again, the teachings on the subject aren’t exactly in their favor; what is expected of them is not always Biblical. There are no dictates in Scripture for the role of a pastor, and therefore, no limit to the number and types of tasks we can demand of them.
For all of the money, power, and influence in Christianity, there seems to be far too many big fish ruling the small pond to care about anything that doesn’t directly threaten them. We have flawed teachings from famous thinkers that replaces the Bible with interpretations that quote the Bible and also distort it’s truth. We have television, radio, and internet blaring these celebrity Christians at us all the time. Regular churches buy into their popular teachings thinking that’s what people want, because it’s one less thing on the pastor’s full plate. Churches are building bigger buildings, but not building up believers. Christianity is selling itself in the wrong markets to the wrong people – focusing on those that already have access to it’s truth and failing to minister to the communities around them. Christianity is failing because it’s not really Christianity. Christianity is the brand on the outside, but it’s not the product that is in the box. Christianity is nothing without love.