Five-Hundred Years Later; Still, 95 Reasons Why…

This October 31st marks the 500-year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. In the same spirit that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the doors of Wittenberg Chapel, we offer this list of offences. This list has been compiled by numerous Pastors, Professors, Authors, Church leaders and followers of Jesus Christ, across North America. This group consisted of various ethnicities, different socio-economic status and genders.

The purpose of this list is not to encourage division, but to help increase the awareness to the seriousness of the current issues that are facing the evangelical Christian church.  This list is not directed at any specific evangelical Christian Church, even though there may be several things on the list that your church may be guilty of.

It is no secret that millennials have been and are continuing to be disengaged from the evangelical Christian church, and here may lie some of the reasons why.  The hope is that by humbly understanding what millennials are saying about the evangelical church, we will be able to improve and correct the current wrongs. This is the only way that the evangelical church will be able to re-connect with millennials and not lose future generations. 

CONGREGATIONAL SINS

1. You are full of idol worship.

2. Your buildings have become your idols.

3. You have made the Bible into an idol.

4. You have committed adultery with the Scriptures in loving them more than God.

5. You have made pragmatism and ability your idol.

6. In your addiction to church “programs”, you have made them your idol.

7. You have made efficiency your god.

8. Your love of money is humiliating.

9. Money has become the main factor in decision-making.

10. Money, not truth, has become the driving force behind the translation of the Bible.

11. The majority of your tithes goes to “paying the bills” and not to community needs.

12. You have turned the church into a marketplace by marketing the gospel.

13. Personal safety dominates your mindset rather than the will of God.

14. You have become defined by your judgemental attitude – not your love.

15. You manipulate the Bible to justify your silence.

16. You treat women as second-class citizens.

17. Your silence on matters of human rights is abominable.

18. You have allowed human/ sex trafficking and slavery to exponentially grow without being seriously addressed by the church.

19. Your neutrality towards those who are oppressed because of race is disgusting.

20. Your decision to stay neutral when our indigenous people are abused and taken advantage of is deplorable.

21. Your decision to stay neutral when it comes to defending the covenants made with natives is shameful.

22. You abuse the foreigner and immigrant.

23. You have tolerated ethnocentrism.

24. Your intolerance of people from other religious beliefs breaks the heart of God.

25. You spend more time inside your building walls than in the community that you claim you belong to.

26. You are scared to get close to people.

27. You have not taken the time to understand gender issues correctly.

28. Learning to love those with sexual identity struggles is not a priority.

29. You are unable to love those who identify as LGBTQ+.

30. You judge those who are different before you get to know them.

31. You have failed to create a place of safety for those who have been abused.

32. You turn a blind eye to the sick and wounded.

33. You have neglected to address cases of sexual abuse within the church.

34. You are more concerned with your own image, rather than the image of God.

 

CHURCH LEADERSHIP FAILURES

35. You are controlled by fear.

36. You use fear to manipulate those who may think differently.

37. You are obsessed with the idea of physical and emotional comfort.

38. You easily confuse politics and the desires of God.

39. The leadership of your local churches are power hungry, manipulative, and serve their own interests, instead of the commands of Christ.

40. In your pursuit of control, you have neglected the sovereignty of God.

41. You have elevated and glorified the position of senior pastor.

42. You have turned a blind eye to the thousands of church leaders who are addicted to pornography.

43. The church’s authority lies in your local or denominational leadership, and not in the Holy Spirit.

44. Your desire to be “right” overshadows God’s command to love.

45. You speak of agape love, but have settled for conditional love.

46. You abuse those (pastors) who are called to serve among you.

47. You have built a system that unhealthily relies upon the pastor for spiritual growth.

48. Keeping those in your buildings “comfortable” overshadows your love for the lost.

49. You have failed to go to the nations.

50. You have turned missions into “colonization”.

51. You have brought “western culture” to lost peoples, and not the love of Jesus.

52. Your failure to learn and appreciate other cultures has led the world to associating “Jesus” with “white culture”.

53. You have taught children that they do not belong in the worship experience with adults.

54. You have oppressed the younger generations whom God has called to serve.

55. You have neglected to teach the “whys” behind what we believe, resulting in generations of religiosity and legalism.

56. You refuse to believe God can be worshiped in different styles and forms other than what is acceptable to you.

57. You use the excuse, “it’s tradition” to stifle progress.

58. Family has become second priority over ministry work.

59. Your apathy in connecting with this generation is not concerning to you.

60. Your close mindedness toward the discoveries of science has led to an inappropriate view of God.

61. Your inability to admit and ask for forgiveness from those you have clearly wronged is evidence of your complete arrogance.

62. When disagreements arise within the local church, you settle for division- over unity.

63. You honor Christ with your lips but your heart is far from Him.

64. Your exclusivity of like-minded people has pushed out thousands.

65. You have deemed this generation’s demand for truth as rebellion.

66. You have allowed the “prosperity gospel” to mislead thousands of people with heretical teachings.

67. You have been misled to believe a heretical understanding of a “successful church”.

 

THEOLOGICAL FAILURES

68. You have forgotten how to pray, you focus on continual “asking” instead of seeking the will of God.

69. You have made Jesus “white” and expect those who follow Christ to act accordingly.

70. The Lord’s Supper has become a measurement for who is holier.

71. You have forgotten how to be led by the Holy Spirit.

72. You have minimized the role and power of the Holy Spirit.

73. You marginalize the Holy Spirit by presenting polished sermons every week.

74. You worship war and violence instead of peace and compassion.

75. You have a high view of scripture, yet a low view of Jesus.

76. You have failed to acknowledge and teach on the humanity of Jesus.

77. You have mistaken sexual repression and oppression for sexual purity.

78. You have removed the holiness of sexuality.

79. You obsess over having new converts but this has led to tolerating a heretical teaching on salvation.

80. You have defiled salvation by teaching that it is contingent on saying “the sinner’s prayer”.

81. You have misled many into a false security of salvation.

82. Your passion for people stops after the salvation experience.

83. You are ignorant of pagan practices and influences, and therefore have filled the church with pagan practices on your quest to be “biblical”.

84. Your failure to correctly interpret and understand scripture has led to many false and heretical teachings.

85. You teach that “blessings” come in forms of comfort, getting what you want, health, and success.

86. You teach that the “church” is a local congregation while failing to acknowledge the universal church of believers that exists worldwide.

87. Your desire to “know” and “prove” everything in relation to God, has minimized the sovereignty and love of God.

88. You inappropriately teach an Old Testament version of tithing; you impose it and frown down upon those that do not conform to it.

89. “Worship” has been defined by singing, but you have failed to teach the importance of a life lived in worship.

90. You elevate a concert-like environment of worship, instead of a genuine Spirit-led worship encounter.

91. Your desire to build a concert-like environment causes your resources to be spent on materialistic items, rather than towards building the Kingdom at a local and global level.

92. Your emphasis on a performance-level worship shuns those with a genuine heart to serve.

93. You have led your congregations astray by singing heretical songs.

94. You glorify large churches rather than small gatherings that are filled with the Holy Spirit

95. You have neglected to teach a sufficient theology on death and the after life.

Advertisements

I Wish More Churches Focused On Confirmation

My spiritual formation has been a “chop-suey” of evangelical traditions and cultures. I was raised in a conservative Chinese Church, where people tried their best to raise us (the millennial generation).  Children’s and Youth ministry was a mix of “trial and error” and “grass root” movements, which were impactful nonetheless.  Were they perfect? No, but what it did do for me was increase my passion for vocational ministry among teens and young adults.

However, as I have journeyed through my life and explored different schools of thought and orthodoxies, I have found various hidden “Jewels” that I wish more Churches held to. One of those “Jewels” is “Confirmation”. One of the misconceptions about “confirmation” is that it is exclusively a Roman Catholic teaching.  This is not true, since Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox, Methodist, Anglican and even Baptist, currently or at some time in their history, have viewed “confirmation” as important.

For me my first question when studying confirmation more in depth a couple years back was, What is the Biblical foundation for this understanding?.  Most of the answers I received were along the lines of “receiving the Holy Spirit” or “baptism of the holy Spirit” in Acts 8:14-17.  This put me in a state of contemplation as I was not raised to view “baptism of the Holy Spirit” that way. I was raised to understand that the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” was something that happened at conversion…or was it? I was also told, that if you were of the Pentecostal or Assembly of God tradition, “baptism of the Holy Spirit” was a completely separate event that happened AFTER conversion.

So let’s back up…what is “Confirmation” according to Church tradition?

“In Christianity, confirmation is either considered a sacrament or rite – depending on the beliefs – of the practitioners, ceremonially performed in a church, which signifies the faith and commitment of a person, who desires to publicize their convictions to their family, friends, and church.”

Wait, I was told that was Baptism!  Yet baptism also granted me the ability to be a member of the church. I was deeply confused!

Baptism in many of the churches I have been able to observe, serves as a multi-purpose event…it was the “3 in 1” or “trinity event” 😉

  • Baptism
  • Church Membership
  • Confirmation

I inquired “why is this the case and where do we find Biblical support” for doing it this way? I have received the answer, “well, its just easier and more efficient to do it this way“.

The thirst for efficiency in the church, has caused more harm than demons themselves. (Yes you can quote me on that)

At the last church I pastored (which was very efficient by the way), according to our survey two years in a row, 80-85% of the baptized students had no idea why they got baptized other than it was “something to do” or that “their parents pressured them” to do it.

I (and other pastors I worked with) were part of conversations where we were pressured by parents and elders to “approve” someone for baptism who had no idea about Christianity nor the desire for Jesus–just because it would “look bad” or “embarrass the parents and elders” if we denied their baptismal request, or the worse one I’ve heard, “we need to hit our baptism numbers, so push this one through“.  My heart broke…what have we become?!

My “two cents”

  1. The Church needs to isolate baptism to “the declaration to follow Christ” and that is it. Period. No strings attached. Baptism should be an open event based on a profession of faith and the desire to follow Jesus. (I am an advocated of baptism happening right after the declaration of faith. “Believe and be baptized” (Acts 2:41)). It also should provide the right to partake in communion.
  2. Confirmation needs to be a separate event when after a period of time, a person is evaluated by the church leadership to exemplify: Christ like character, possession/ indwelling of the Holy Spirit and evidence of sanctification. This should be a more rigorous process in contrast to baptism, and available to those who have been baptized.
  3. Church membership should not be connected to baptism. It needs to remain completely separate, reserved for those who have been baptized, been confirmed  and have a desire to serve in a leadership position in the Church. The membership process should be even more rigorous than the confirmation process.  Members need to serve, there is no such thing as a “non-active member” and only members can serve as deacons and elders. 

I am not claiming that this will solve all of the Evangelical Church’s problems when it comes to millennials or that Churches that go about it this way are better. However, it may help address some of the problems concerning millennials who have been baptized (with all the strings attached) who are sitting there going “what the heck was all that for?” and who were taught that baptism was the “end all be all” which has led them to be no longer involved in a the church for lack of understanding.

  • Baptism is an event that is between you and Jesus that is witnessed by the world around you
  • Confirmation is an event where the church body you are apart of, confirms that you are in fact, by their observance and interaction, are a legitimate follower of Christ, redeemed by Jesus and recipient of the Holy Spirit
  • Church Membership is a privilege that is granted to those who are dedicated to serve in leadership in that specific local church

Separating these three events could greatly increase the way your church does discipleship. Sure it will put more responsibility upon the church leadership, but I really think by using Baptism, Confirmation and Church Membership this way, it could really increase the spiritual maturity of your not only your young adult’s but entire church as well.

I hope that this is beneficial for at least some of you to read 🙂