Morning Roundup - May 3, 2012
Any healthy church must have some level of inward focus. Those in the church should be discipled. Hurting members need genuine concern and ministry. Healthy fellowship among the members is a good sign for a congregation.
But churches can lose their outward focus and become preoccupied with the perceived needs and desires of the members. The dollars spent and the time expended can quickly become focused on the demands of those inside the congregation. When that takes place the church has become inwardly obsessed. It is no longer a Great Commission congregation.
In my research of churches and consultation with churches, I have kept a checklist of potential signs that a church might be moving toward inward obsession. No church is perfect; indeed most churches will demonstrate one or two of these signs for a season. But the real danger takes place when a church begins to manifest three or more of these warning signs for an extended period of months and even years.
1. Worship wars
2. Prolonged minutia meetings
3. Facility focus
4. Program driven
5. Inwardly focused budget
6. Inordinate demands for pastoral care
7. Attitudes of entitlement
8. Greater concern about change than the gospel
9. Anger and hostility
10. Evangelistic apathy
Thousands of intelligent females argue daily for everything from atheism to Islam without hearing an articulate reason to believe otherwise. Because of this, we need more women on the cultural laywoman level dedicating their minds to understanding the cultural persuasiveness of non-Christian arguments, so that we can "always be ready to give an answer (Greek apologia) for the hope that is in us."
We need women who can understand and articulate what Jesus thinks about N.O.W., about Buddhist mums who seem to offer more compassion than Christians, about Fifty Shades of Gray. We need women to speak about a better way to educate youth groups about sexuality than, "Men are animals and women need to be modest." We need women to weigh in on why and what to do about Christianity's ability to both mend broken families and tear others apart.
As apologist Mary Jo Sharp explained in a recent interview, "We need philosophically and theologically sound women to debate and challenge organizations that seem to presuppose all women should naturally be in agreement with their philosophy and actions."