Q&A: A Club Called the Church?

A Club Called the Church?

Question

Why does much of the church today perform worse than many clubs in America? While some still do, I do not expect members of the Lion's Club to visit the sick and dying. But, the church that should be doing this, does not! Where's the real church? Why should I even go to church?

Answer

The Lion's Club boasts about being the world's largest service organization. The Rotary Club reportedly provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and helps build goodwill and peace in the world. The six Objects of Kiwanis International are very descriptive of their organization:

  • To give primacy to the human and spiritual rather than to the material values of life.

  • To encourage the daily living of the Golden Rule in all human relationships.

  • To promote the adoption and the application of higher social, business and professional standards.

  • To develop, by precept and example, a more intelligent, aggressive and serviceable citizenship.

  • To provide, through Kiwanis clubs, a practical means to form enduring friendships, to render altruistic service and to build better communities.

  • To cooperate in creating and maintaining that sound public opinion and high idealism which make possible the increase of righteousness, justice, patriotism and goodwill.

These clubs have meetings. They are called to order, discuss mutual items of interest, and complete projects. All these clubs do some good in the world. They are to be commended for the number of lives helped and changed through their efforts.

Mind us - we can't be saved by works (Eph 2:10; Tit 3:5) - but helping others is a part of belonging to a society. It is part of being belonging to the world, isn't it?

In many ways, the church acts the same way. They, like the Lion's Club, boast about being a huge service organization. Like the Rotary Club many provide 'humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.' Similar to the Kiwanis Club they "encourage the daily living of the Golden Rule in all human relationships."

Though the church consists of different denominations, they also have a certain general order to their meetings. Among them are: (1) the preaching of the Word, (2) prayer, and (3) the sacraments. They too discuss mutual items of interest and "some" complete projects. In many ways the church appears to a mere club!

However, the church is not called to be just another club. It is something far greater. It is to be far different! It is called to be more than a mere organization. It is suppose to be a living and loving. It is the "body of Christ" (Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 10:17; 12:27; Eph 4:12; 5:23; Col 1:24). It is "always" suppose to be serving others! But does it "always" do it?

I think many enter the church with good intentions and are actually saved. But then something happens along the way. Perhaps we get taught a theology of mere words and no action. We get spiritualized - more like traumatized! We get educted (mis-spelled on purpose, think about it). We get complacent. We get cold. We get . . . Whatever . . . it leads Jesus to say to many of us, "But I have this complaint against you. You don't love me or each other as you did at first!" (Rev 2:4, NLT).

Many end up abandoning the church after they experience a form of it first hand! Some genuinely have a right to be concerned. Some high-dollar pastors are fleecing the flock. One pastor I know makes over $90,000.00 a year preaching to a church of 60-70 souls (and less than 20 in a business meeting), but their church budget reflects a mere few thousand a year to care for the poor! Another church purports feeding the hungry in their community one day every month. It is on their website. They are proud of their large kitchen! There are reports of feeding the hungry in their weekly bulletin. However, some of their members say, "I am giving thousands every year and why with that large kitchen aren't we feeding the hungry every day of the month?" Then on a certain Sunday one of the homeless that are being fed comes to the church for an actual service and they are not allowed in the front door? Why? They just came from the street and are not dressed properly!!! What love is this? It's not, it is pure hatred! Matthew 25:41-46; cf. Ezekiel 16:49; 1 John 3:17-18.

The sick are not visited. One pastor chooses to teach a Hebrew Class instead of visiting one of his members before a serious operation - an operation that weeks before he promised he would be present for! Another member reported to his pastor that he was dying of a slow moving and very painful disease. Four people from the church sent an email the first week this was announced. The second week there was only one email; one of the original four. There was not a visit from the pastor or any one else? Only four people in an entire church care if someone is dying? Where is the true church?

Did not Jesus say in Matthew 25:31-46, ". . . For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' . . . " Did you notice that in each example Jesus is painting above that he is saying that there should be personal contact with another? Did you notice that just mere giving to such ministries is not enough?

. . . YOU gave me food . . . YOU gave me drink . . . YOU welcomed me . . . YOU clothed me . . . YOU visited me . . . YOU came to me.

It's time to take our suits off and get our hands dirty with the works of grace. People need people. We should expect that a life changed by Christ to exhibit these qualities to some degree. As a former police detective I learned to locate, identify, collect, preserve, label, and present evidence. Given the parameters in Matthew 25 above, would I find enough evidence in your life to convict you of being a Christian? Or would I hear Jesus saying, "You don't love me or each other as you did at first?" (Rev 2:4, NLT).

Yes, there are many within the church that are not what they purport to be. Jesus told us in Matthew 7:15-20 (GNT):

Be on your guard against false prophets; they come to you looking like sheep on the outside, but on the inside they are really like wild wolves. You will know them by what they do. Thorn bushes do not bear grapes, and briers do not bear figs. A healthy tree bears good fruit, but a poor tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a poor tree cannot bear good fruit. And any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire. So then, you will know the false prophets by what they do.

So, some in the church actually have a reason for not ministering to the homeless, visiting the sick, and not ministering to those in prison. A reason? Yes, though it is an unjustifiable one (Rom 1:20), it is not in their DNA to do it (1 Kings 8:46; Psa 143:2; Prov 20:9; Rom 1:18-32; 2:12-15; cf. John 3:1-8) They are merely being who they genuinely are; wolves fooling and fleecing the flock. They are mere Kingdom criminals; church crooks, enemies of the covenant.

Yet, there are some in the church as I stated previously that have gone astray. They are real Christians, but they have left their first love (Rev 2:4). This is really serious (see Rev 2:5). I have found myself here before!

We must continuously remember that this world is made up of hurting people. There is a lot of pain. Though many have tried, "grief," "pain," and "hurt" can't be described with mere words. Not even pictures can properly demonstrate hurting people; many of them members of our own church. For one to really understand, it takes going out into the world daily and seeing the tears of others, listening, helping, and ministering to them. Then coming back the next day and doing the same thing again. Only then can the real picture begin to be painted upon our souls.

I challenge you Christian, if indeed you are a Christian, just not to just sit and listen to good sermons! If you do only that then they will kill you. Read fewer books - including you pastor - and get more involved with people. Pastor tell me about your library of 12,000 books and I will ask you where are the 12,000 souls you fed this month are at. Where are your visits to the sick? What about those in prison? Your people need to be read too. Open up their lives. Turn their pages. Read their chapters. Listen to their words. Grieve with them. Rejoice with them. Become a part of the book called thier life.

Do you have a genuine desire to help others? Great, in Christ that is grace at work in you. Now just DO IT! You don't need another sermon on how to DO IT, just DO IT. You don't need another reason, just DO IT. What if you mess it up? Then RE-DO IT! Jesus never said you would be perfect at it, he just said that if you are one of his you will just DO IT!

While at times God calls us to leave a particular church, saint try not to leave the church (Heb 10:25) just because some treat it as a mere club. Show them what it is really like to love Jesus. Perhaps then some will leave Club Dead and come back to the church of the living God (1 Tim 3:15).

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." . . . "Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (John 13:24; 1 John 3:18).

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).