There is an enthusiastic, hardworking kind that fills churches these days. A false spirit it is, however, crept in the pews, once rarer to find but now easily spotted from the pulpit to the door. What’s its name? I call it…“Churchy”.
What is Churchiness?
Churchiness: the characteristic of false devotion having church routine as its focus rather than God that becomes a substitute for genuine godliness and ministry. It describes a believer or non-believer of every kind of church caught up in doing church rather than being it.
When I think about what I’m observing churchiness do to people’s faith, a term comes to mind: transmogrify. It means to change the form or appearance of in a strange or grotesque way; and that frightens me. Let me paint the picture for you.
- Churchy people thrive on program and involvement but lack in worship and effective ministry.
- Churchy people greatly enjoy the glitzy, hyped aspects of church life: performance, personages, roles and titles, numbers, conferences—you name it.
- Churchiness reduces the church to social club status for the spiritually elite or those who merely wish to use Jesus as their converge theme. Such allows the formation of in-crowds—cliques—that oust others and provide haven for dangerous subversions.
- Churchiness allows sinners to blend in with the people of God and feel no conviction of the Spirit about the sinful condition of their hearts and essential need for Jesus.
“Do the First Works”
I believe the way to plug this leak of genuine piety is to once again emphasize those basic elements often the lack of which have brought about the problem.
First, we must preach the Word of God. Christian preaching has become very principle-centered and church-oriented; and we are tossing aside scripture-based, doctrinal teaching, which is so foundational. Preaching is being diluted with self-help and capitalist notions, even New Age thought. This shouldn’t be. The end result is people who are spiritually shallow and weak.
Second, ongoing discipleship is essential. We should never stop progressing in Christ or his Word. Churches must facilitate discipleship at every level and in formal ways; and we must individually desire and pursue greater biblical literacy and effective ministry. Progressive discipleship keeps us developing in our salvation (2 Pet. 1).
Third, the wonder of God is vital. I’m talking about worship. We’ll “camp out” reinventing church if we’re not enthralled with the God it serves. This is why some churches have become holy Hollywood fabrications that would wash out if all the ‘lights, cameras, and action’ were taken away. But when one gets a vision of God akin to Isaiah’s, he or she will quickly lose the false sense of importance in non-essentials that attends churchiness.
Finally, clear teaching about the church and its role from a biblical and theological perspective is very important. When was the last time you heard such teaching from the pulpit? But won’t that aid a congregation’s identity, mission, protocol, community, and more? We tend to hear it only when a church is launched. I say the savviest church trends need not replace rudimentary instruction.
Thus, churchiness makes a mockery of the price Jesus paid for a glorious Church. Yet his death affords us no limelight, no laziness, no lackadaisical attitude. Let’s be the church and keep Jesus our highest goal and not settle for a false image of godliness.