We know from studying the evidence that God is the perfect designer. Beyond just designing the universe we see in impeccable detail, though, He also perfectly designed the family and the church as institutions in which we can love each other and serve Him. Humans have a unique way of corrupting that which is good, though. Families suffer as children are considered nothing more than accessories and marriage and sexual are for anybody and everybody. We aren’t surprised when we see society crumble around weak families, but we should likewise understand that weak churches are even more responsible for the cultural apostasy. It is the church that God entrusted with shining His light in the world. If He wanted us to stay silent, He wouldn’t have given us the Word and the Spirit. With declining retention rates among our youth and stagnant evangelism in most places, it’s safe to say that the church isn’t what it should be. If we just assume that problem will correct itself, nothing is going to change. We must be intentional about fixing what is wrong. Here are three areas the church must address if it is going to reestablish God’s influence over culture.
– We need elders. Though the church has a number of fine elders, the fact remains that many congregations go without elders, as none of their men are qualified. Other congregations install men who do not meet the qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 out of desperation to have some form of leadership. Still other congregations have men who meet those qualifications but are not spiritually-minded enough to guide the congregation in the way it needs to go. To those who are elders – are you training and mentoring the younger men in your congregation to replace you some day? To parents – perhaps instead of hoping that our children will survive their college years with their faith, shouldn’t we be training them with the goal of someday leading and serving the church according to the Scriptures? God blesses families with children, and He expects them to be returned to Him and used in His service as arrows (Psalm 127, Proverbs 22:6). The church will always need elders, and with nearly two whole generations missing we desperately need to start turning up the intensity in our efforts to train future elders.
– We need preachers. There will always be people looking for a speaker who will “tickle their ears” (2 Timothy 4:3-4) and make them feel good about themselves regardless of how they live. Sadly, there will always be preachers who look to fill that niche, too. Though we need to fight to convince those people of the truth, we should put even more focus into fighting the problem of “fluff.” What we need in the pulpits are not men who will give a shallow pep talk or will skim over the tough stuff. We need men who will dig deep and show the way into the Word. We need men who will challenge the listener’s understanding of the Bible. We need men who will inspire an enthusiasm for the Bible that is contagious. As many pulpits remain unfilled, many are filled with those who teach falsely, and a number are filled with shallow preachers, we need those preachers who are strong in the Word to set an example and take others under their wing. An introductory reading of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus show the seriousness with which Paul viewed His ministry. That’s the attitude we need more of.
– We need servants. Not every man is going to be an elder or a preacher, not every woman is going to be an elder’s wife, a preacher’s wife, or a teacher among women and children. In fact, the majority of people who attend congregations won’t be. What we need is for those people to make a commitment to the church that they will be there when it’s time to worship and won’t put anything else over their commitment to God. We need them to make the Joshua 24:15 promise to serve God and Him only in their households. We need them to strengthen and encourage their elders and preachers, and we need them to constantly study so that they can have their own relationships with God and so they can confirm what they’re taught from the Scriptures like the Bereans of Acts 17.
No matter which one of these three you are or might become, we need you. The church’s problems aren’t going to fix themselves. They’re going to require each one of us to look at ourselves, our families, and our church so we can understand what role we need to fill and what we can do to help the church spread into the culture rather than the opposite. Christ is our foundation (1 Peter 2:6-8) and as long as our efforts build on Him, we’ll never go wrong. It’s time to start building again. Can the church count on you?