Mark Batterson, author and pastor of National Community Church, recently was invited to a conference called “The Movement,” where the discussion was centered around this question: “What’s wrong with the church?”
Mark gave a great and on point answer which he summarizes here.
I wasn’t invited to the gathering.
That’s probably good, cause I don’t know the answer, but I do have an opinion.
What’s wrong with the church? In my opinion, and again, it’s really only my opinion, the thing wrong with the church can be summed up in this statement:
The church doesn’t know who it is.
I believe what’s wrong with the church is an identity crisis. Some people would argue that what’s wrong with the church is that it is more concerned about organized religion than making a difference in the world. Others would say that the church is going wrong because it’s abandoned the message of the soul-changing gospel for self-help. Others would say there’s too much rock and roll, and others might say there’s too many candles. All or none of that may be true, but it all points to the larger issue: The church doesn’t know who it is.
I’ll give you an example from 20 years ago. About that time, people in church circles started wondering whether or not we should have drums in the big room or not. At that time, the question we should have been asking was not, “Are drums right for the church?” The question we should have been asking was, “Who is my church?” And then based on the answer to that question, stand confidently. And don’t try to be something we’re not.
The problem now is a little different. Then, the answer was subjective based on the demographics and logistics of an individual congregation. But the issue was really a matter of figuring out that congregation’s identity, and then acting according to it.
Now the issue is bigger. It’s weightier. It’s more important. Now, more than ever, we’ve got to start asking, “Who are we?” And we’ve got to start living accordingly. That means doing some things we’re currently doing better, it means starting to do some new things, and it means stopping to do some things not in accordance with who we are.
In order, then, to answer the question, “What’s wrong with the church?” we’ve first got to answer the question, “What is the church anyway?”