1 Key Thing Missing From Many American Churches

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Conversely, changing outward forms, structures, worship styles, adding a new mission statement, new technology, new programs, new outreaches, changing the name of your church or ministry, although useful, are all false, unproductive ways to actually produce spiritual life. Spiritual life, health, and vitality flow from the fellowship we have with the Lord and of being continually baptized into the implications of who Jesus is to us.

Elaborate buildings, large numbers of people, and an increasing flow of cash is not necessarily a sign of spiritual life and vitality, nor does it guarantee the same. The church did not begin with that focus, but yet somehow modern church principles have put the emphasis on attendance, buildings and cash. Some have called it the ABCs of modern church growth. But many false religions of the world have a large following, magnificent buildings and lots of cash, too.

Although we are not opposed to any of these things in and of themselves, they are not the true indicators of spirituality. As a matter of fact, often these things serve as a sort of façade or smokescreen that hides the real problems and issues that are facing the church in this hour. They tend to thicken our deception and fool us into a false success.

The cart before the horse mentality would apply here. We've been guilty of painting and decorating the cart while neglecting the sick horse—the cart being the external workings of the church and the horse being the true spiritual condition of the people.

My younger biological brother who is a bit of a wordsmith came up with the following quote that illustrates the "cart before the horse" mentality that is so prevalent in the body of Christ today:

"Another meeting, another offering, another song, another convention, another banquet, another special speaker, another concert, another project, another program ... and so 'church life' continues, but the changed life remains scarce. If the horse is healthy the cart will be pulled. If the horse is unhealthy, making the cart more attractive is useless." —Roy Farias

There is a subtle, almost subconscious mentality in the church today that places great emphasis on the outward and external appearances of Christianity. Think about this. We are trained by example to esteem appearance, presentation, professionalism and showmanship above what is happening internally in hearts through the effectual working of the power of God. We are easily impressed by the trappings of the production of the church and fooled by its big names and big conferences. I'm afraid there is a large gap separating the culture of the modern Western church from the heart of God as revealed through Jesus in the gospels and through the early church.

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