A great weakness is apparent in the modern pattern of the Christian churches. Local churches have become so institutionalized that many members think of their responsibility only as sustaining and promoting the institutional church. Running the machinery has become the foremost concern of both clergy and laity, and little time or energy is left for going out beyond the church walls to reach non-Christians personally. A typical church member will think he is doing his job adequately if he invites a non-Christian to his church, then waits patiently for the minister or the evangelist to do the converting.

The thinking that underlies this modern pattern might be called a “fortress mentality.” The local church is like a fortress. There Christians are secure and everything is orderly. Christians hold dress parades within the fortress, impressing themselves and visiting dignitaries with their successful interior build-up. Often they have lost the will and the courage to venture out to battle in the secular wilderness.

The average pastor has this fortress mentality. His first concern is membership, program, edifice, and finances. His second is his denomination. If he longs for fellowship with his peers, he finds it among his fellow ministers. If he is frustrated by the limited opportunity within his own church, he finds expression in the denominational program. Many ministers spend very little time evangelizing non-Christians and devote more and more time to board meetings, committees, denominational gatherings, and ministerial fellowships.

As the pastor goes, so goes the congregation. The laymen too become church-minded. When they rise to positions of responsibility within the local church after years of minor service, they usually ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.