This may become an on-again, off-again series...but then again, it may not.
In some circles, men are practically gnashing their teeth over what they term the "feminization" of the church. These men, of course, view this as a bad thing because, in general, they have a low view of femininity. Frankly, I've never quite bought into their argument about the church in American being "too feminine" and this supposedly being the root of all its ills.
Recently I was discussing this with someone, who pointed out, "But the real problem is that the church has become far too masculinized --- men are treating it as a business, rather than as a family or as the Body of Christ!"
That was, for me, one of those, "well, duh...!" moments. Yes, of course, I thought. That explains it.
Someone else told me, also very recently, about a special meeting called at his church. It seems that his church had reached a crisis point of no longer being able to sustain itself financially due to dwindling attendance. The meeting was spent exploring solutions: marketing strategies, campaigns, special events, etc. It sounded to me just like...well, like a business meeting of a secular organization. It also sounded all too familiar. I've been to those sorts of meetings. In fact, in more recent years, I've been to way too many of them.
Once, I sat through a church meeting that was supposedly about the "new church vision". Most of the meeting, however, was taken up by showing us samples of the types of advertising and marketing the church leadership was considering. The pastor was proposing that tens of thousands of dollars be spent, by a small church, on mailings, DVDs (not of sermons but of clever "commercials" for the church) and gimmicky gifts such as bibs, pens, hats, etc. featuring the name and clever new logo of the church.
I've heard about pastors --- and actually met one --- who prefer to call themselves by a more business-oriented title, such as CEO or administrator or lead teacher. Anything but pastor...
I've read books and articles about church leadership that sounded just like the sort of stuff I used to read when I was part of the corporate world.
In fact, the business model of church growth and management is rampant in American today.
Call me hopelessly feminine, but I think it's wrong. I think it is more than wrong --- I think it is dangerously misguided. It is, in my opinion, the most serious symptom of the grave problem of the masculinization of the church.
It is, of course, entirely understandable that men would want to change the church into something that is familiar and comfortable to them. It is also understandable that they would want to take control, that they would want to remake the church into their own image --- as if it was their creation and their body --- and would want to define and take credit for its "growth".
But it's wrong.
The church belongs to Jesus Christ. It is His Body. It's not a commercial enterprise or a business entity. The Bible never describes it as such. We are family, we are united as members of His Body. We are not officers, managers, and employees of a business.
Jesus is the one who builds His Church.
He did not tell us to wage great marketing campaigns for Him. He told us to make disciples. Clever advertising and church growth strategies are not the way to fulfill the Great Commission.
Missing in all of this --- at least to my feminine way of thinking --- is prayer and a reliance on the Holy Spirit to do His work. My admittedly feminine approach to dwindling church numbers would be to open God's Word and ask, "How did He add to the church back in the beginning, when there were so few of them?" And then we would get on our knees, on our very faces, before Him. First we would come in repentance for all that we've done personally to get in the way of His work, the many ways we had brought shame to him and caused strife within His Body. We'd repent of our lack of love for each other and for those outside of His Body. We'd plead with Him to change us. Then we would pray on behalf of His church. We would plead with Him for revival, first in our hearts and then in the hearts of others. We would ask Him to make us bold in sharing the gospel. We would ask Him to build His church. We would ask Him to equip us for every good work, and to send us out into the harvest. We'd plead with Him to guide and direct us.
And we'd keep doing that.
In the meantime, we'd look to His Word to see what else the church is supposed to be doing. We would love one another. We would tend to the widows and orphans. We would feed and clothe the hungry, visit the prisoners, care for the sick, pray for one another, preach the gospel in season and out of season, teach our children, and make disciples. Most of all, we would worship God in spirit and in truth. We would love Him with all that we had, and we would pray for the ability to love Him more.
Yes, I know. Way too feminine. Unrealistic. Behind the times. I know. I know.
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