I love words, and "perfidy" is a neat word for a writer; it is fun to say and fun to incorporate into a sentence. However, in its tangible function, it is heinous, especially in a church. Perfidy comes from the Latin word perfidia, that means faithless, treacherous, and false conduct that denotes betrayal! It can mean a simple infringement of a precept we said we would follow, to all-out betrayal and apostasy. And, to be honest with you, perfidy is a big problem in many churches today. What we say we will do, regarding following Christ, in our ordination vows as pastors and shepherds as well as our doctrinal covenants and creeds as leaders is not always the direction we tend to go. And, when we are not following Christ faithfully, we are, in turn, leading others astray. To put this in a physical church building context, it would be as if we took a crucial piece of the church's superstructure and removed or distorted it. Even moving one of the many foundation footers beneath a church building could cause it to sway, and even collapse. This is perfidy to a building. But, what about perfidy to what is in the building? This is determined by how your church is lined up to its Foundation.
What Type of Foundation Does Your Church Have?
The foundation of your church will set up the attitude and theme of your church. Thus we need to ask, is our church lined up properly to its foundation? Do you realize that if it is not, your church building will fall off of it? Your church building, if not properly erected on good foundation "footers," will fail and perhaps collapse upon the congregation, literally. In constituting a building whether it be a church, an office, or a home-it is absolutely essential that the footers of the foundation are perfectly level and plumb. Footer is a very large block of concrete that is placed in the soil below a building that is being erected. This footer is part of the building's foundation, which supports the load-bearing portion of the building. Its prime purpose is to prevent the structure from moving or sinking. Footers also provide a stable base upon which the rest of the building is built. If these footers are not lined up correctly, off even as much as a fraction of an inch, then each piece of the building to come afterward will not fit or line up with the other. If we are not personally lined up to Christ, then everything we do will be skewed and will not fit, including relationships, activities, outreach, and the day-to-day activities of a church. All will be off-center and flawed because our alignment is off from Christ who is our Foundation.
Is Your Church Just a Building?
The church is more than a building. In fact, a church is not a building at all. Rather, it originates with the people being supported on the footer of our Lord and Savior. If we are off in our alignment with Christ, then we are off in all other things, too. Thus, we become a Church of Perfidy. This puts our church in a really perilous position in Him, with one another, and in the community. The perfidy of a church means a betrayal of a trust of who Christ is and what He calls us to do. If our church is not lined up to Him and in His Word, and is not practicing His call and precepts, we will start to fall off the "plumb line" of His foundation and cornerstone. Remember, even a small fraction of an inch off center or off level will cause a building to be ruined. So it is with how we run our churches. When we stray from Him, everything that comes from our church will stray, too. We are called to be "plumb" in Christ. A plumb line is a length of rope from which a metal weight is suspended on the bottom end. This allows the earth's center of gravity to hold the rope in a perpendicular, vertical line to make sure the building that is being erected is "straight" and "plumb." This simple device has been used for thousands of years and is still a valuable tool today. If you place studs or stones upon a foundation that is not perfectly level or if you do not use a plumb line, then the walls will not be straight and will not join up with the other walls and be a safe haven. Can you see the parallels here from construction to the practice of our faith and how we lead a church?
Being off a small fraction will cause a much greater loss down the road. If we start to follow trends, ideas, teachings that are not from God's Word or are not clearly distilled from His precepts, then the running of our church will be skewed because our "direction-finding" is skewed. In navigation, if you are off a fraction of a degree from your course heading at your start, then a few hundred miles away you will be many miles off your mark. This type of error brought down the passenger jet, Korean Air 007 in 1983, when the then Soviets shot the 747 airliner down as it mistakenly veered over their airspace. Conspiracy theories aside, it was concluded that the 747 pilots put the wrong heading in the autopilot. They were off a very small degree that slowly ventured the airliner off its course and the instrument guiding system, ending the lives of the 240 passengers and 29 crewmen and crewwomen aboard. When our churches start to veer off His path even a fraction, down the road it can escalate to heresies or complacency that will lead the people with whom God entrusted us astray. This 747, after flying over sensitive areas, was shot out of the sky by MIG fighters. Take heed. When we veer off God's path, we too will be held accountable (Matt. 16:27; Acts 2:22-24, 36; 3:13-15; 5:30-32; 7:51-53; Rom. 2:6; 14:12-13; Gal. 6:1-5; Eph. 6:21; 1 Peter 4:10-11; Rev 18:6; 20:12-13; 22:12).
There is something much more important than the foundation materials and placement in constructing a church or in navigational procedures, and that is the understanding of who and what the "cornerstone" is. A cornerstone was a large stone laid at the foundation of stone buildings prior to the 1950s to be a "footer" and to "plumb" the rest of the building so it was square and secure. This cornerstone was the first stone, usually an exceptionally large one, placed above ground on top of stones placed underground at the beginning of the northeast corner of the building. This was essential to the structure of the building. These buildings were laid with cut stones, interlocked by gravity and force and without mortar. They were stacked stone on top of stone, all relying and leaning on one another. Many such structures have lasted for many millennia. Without proper stone placement, buildings in the ancient world would not have lasted long or would have fallen during construction. Here, we have an image of how our Lord is our Cornerstone (Psalm 118:18-27; Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; Eph. 2:20).
Is Christ Your Church's Living Stone?
The idea is that the cornerstone represents Christ as the Chosen Stone (Acts 4:11; Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:6-8). The idea that Jesus Christ is our Living Stone has significant ramifications of His Lordship over our lives and church. These themes refer to Him as our temple, the One who gives us grace, reconciliation, empowerment, and comfort, and He does not disappoint. Living stone means the foundation, the source of something, such as of a building or a family (Psalm 118:22; Isa. 8:14; 28:16; 2 Peter 2:4-10). This means Jesus is the Spiritual Temple, not just in theory or in liturgy, but in actual practice, living in our day-to-day leadership and management. He is the place and focus of worship and counsel. The church or temple is no longer a building; it is a community in relationship to Christ. Think of these images from the reality that Jesus was a carpenter in His human occupation, and perhaps frequently worked with stonemasons or did masonry himself. He was personally familiar with building both in practice and in Lordship, and we must submit to His Lordship in order to be a healthy, vibrant church. Make no mistake. This image from the Gospels is not a mere tale or metaphor; He is to be Christ the Stone, our Giver of life, our Source and Foundation. We must manage His Church from the mindset and practice that He is our LORD for all we are and do (Matt. 21:42; John 1:4; 1 Cor. 3:1-3; 15:45)!
Living stones in 2 Peter 2:5 is plural, denoting that they are the people of the Church. In the context of our spiritual house, it means a living organism, a sacred temple empowered by God to worship God. This idea implies that our union in Him is our dependence on Christ, as He is the One who supports us, lifts us up, and houses us in His presence (Ex. 19:6; Mark 12:10-11). This should cause us to think and be in the wonders and fears of "awe!" This means Christian community and fellowship is a "spiritual house," established, organized, and led in Him. We are all one in Christ and we derive our life from Him. Our identity in Him must affect us personally and publicly, synergizing us as a community so our church is managed in His "reckoning" (Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 15:45) that is formed, indwelt, and empowered by the Spirit (Acts 2:33). We are all precious, important, and have a job to do as a moving, living temple, reflecting His love and holiness (John 2:19; Ro 12:1; 1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:19-22; Heb 7:26; 10:10).
The fact of what our Lord has done for us shows us that we are to be as a corporate collaboration of people in Him. The call is to come to Christ because He is the Living Stone, as He called in Matthew 11:28-30. This is an image of how our Lord is our direction and foundation in all we do, personally and in church, and how we, as a church, should function, as we are all interlocked and plumbed with purpose to one another by our calls, gifts, and abilities-all in Him (Eph. 4). Christ is constructing a building of faith and eminence to be His Church, made up of the stones of "us" lain upon the foundation of Him. Thus, our faith needs to grow from us personally and then move into our community so we can interlock with one another, fastened by the mortar of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:19-22).
In Second Peter 2, Peter tells of the incredible transition from the Temple and the priesthood to the Church-foretold, but still inconceivable to the Jewish mindset. The actuality is that Christ is our stone bridge. He gives us continuity and purpose. Jesus is the Foundation, Pillar, and the Purpose of the Church, which means our church, even your church. To facilitate worship, we as His people as gathered are the Church no matter when and where we are at. We are not cold stones that are stationary and that decay; rather, we are living and movable, cemented together as a corporate identity in Him.
Yet, as perfect and precious as our Living Stone is, we, the people leading His Church, tend not to want to understand Him and therefore refuse to follow His principles out of fear of losing people, not being culturally relevant, or perhaps a fear of conviction, too. His way gets in the way of their way (my way) of leadership, because they have a skewed understanding of the Cornerstone as LORD. This idea is much like that of the first century Jews who wanted a warrior Messiah, not a Savior and One who convicted their souls. However, when we are in Him, we have no need to fear a loss of relevancy because we more than make up for it with authenticity, which is far more contagious for the faith to those who do not yet know Him. Authenticity means we are encountering and becoming close to Him. Christ alone gives us the comfort, protection, and the deep love we need. Therefore, we can lead His way and not compromise or lose our footing when we are on His footer. Keep in mind that we, too, are precious in God's sight!
Our identification as a "corporate" church does not imply a building; rather, it is a relationship of community where we are His priests! The entire sacrificial and priestly system, as God directed Moses to set up, is now obsolete. It has been replaced. Its purpose was to point to Christ and get people ready; now, He is here. He is the Sacrifice, the Altar, and the Temple, and we are the priests (Ex. 19:1-9; Eph. 2:17-18; Heb. 7:27; 8:6; 9:12-28; 10:12-19; 13:15-16; Rev. 1:6). The key is that we have to listen to His Word; we must relinquish our self-absorbed mindsets and focus on Christ as Lord over all. We are called a Spiritual House referring to the O.T. Temple as God's dwelling place. Now, that house is more than a building; it is also a legacy, a large family, or a dynasty such as the "House of Israel." Thus, the Church is God's dwelling place and legacy (2 Sam. 7:5-7, 12-16; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:19-22; Heb. 3:6).
Moving Away From the Cornerstone
The problem is that many churches have fallen so far, they are apostate and others are on the verge of the same betrayal against our Holy Cornerstone. Understanding that He is our Cornerstone gives us a navigational rendering on how to lead and manage our church in a healthy, biblical way. Understanding that He is our chief cornerstone means Jesus is the Chief, the Head of the corner. It means our Lord is our All in All-we can trust in Him (1 Cor. 15:20-28)! How wonderful and comforting to be able to allow Him to be our haven of rest, our continual comfort. At the same time, a warning is given in Scripture to those who reject the Living Stone in the Bible. They will stumble and fall. Stumble, meaning disobedient, refers to condemnation and judgment because a person is so "self willed" and prideful, he or she is not willing to acknowledge God as his or her Lord (Mal. 2:8; John 11:9; Rom. 9:33; 14:20; 1 Cor. 10:32; James 3:2; 2 Peter 2:8).
Fall in Romans and Matthew refers to Isaiah (Matt. 21: 33-46; Isa. 8:13-15; 28:16). Peter and Paul both used this image (Rom. 9:33; 11:11; 14: 4, 21; Heb. 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:6-8), that those who reject Jesus as the Messiah will be judged. God's Kingdom is portrayed as a rock, and we will be cursed by it if we fight against it (Dan. 2: 34-44; Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:6; Rev 20:12-13; 22:12). He still gives us His grace-until it is too late and we are called to account. God gives us ample prevision and time to turn from our evil and wayward ways to His True Word, His best Way (Jer. 23:22-23). He patiently accommodates us (to a point) to give us the time to realize our disobedient conduct, gives us the room to make mistakes, and still calls us back into His arms of love and care. Do not be the one who rejects the Living Stone and causes your church to run askew and away from His call and purpose! We are called to allow our faith to empower our obedience because obedience is what pleases God. Disobedience, from a lack of faith, is detestable to Him and causes us to be lost over dangerous ground. This comes down to "apostasy," which is the abandonment of one's religious faith, or skewing it far away from its core precepts.
We are falling away from the Truth and are rebelling against Him when we continue to do this without repentance. We are betraying our Lord and deceiving the ones we are supposed to be leading further into His depths! The problem with this situation is that most of the leadership in these churches who are failing do not realize that they are, nor do they comprehend that their decisions and the things they chase are moving them away from the Cornerstone and into apostasy. The plumb line from which to gauge where we are is His Word. I am not just talking about moving away from essential Christian doctrine, although this applies. Rather, I am pointing to our not communicating doctrine in love and care and not discipling others so they can know Him more. It is just as bad to have good doctrine and not communicate it as it is to reject good doctrine. The end result is the same玆a Church of Perfidy. Then the person in such a church will not know truth, His will, His call, or recognize opportunities and precepts so he can then act upon them. We become the church of the "pew-sitter" who not only does nothing in a church, but also gets nothing from the church.
The Slippery Slope
The slope upon which we slip into a Church of Perfidy is the hill of compromise, where we weaken our beliefs and doctrines, and fail to love. This can easily happen if we fail to apply Christ and His guidelines to our lives.
· Moving Away from the Centrality of God's Word. The foundational error many churches make is the rejection of God's Word as the authority for their lives (Acts 17:11; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Rom. 1:16; Titus 2:11-12; 2 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 4:12). This is the kind of thinking that leads to the rejection of essential doctrines such as the deity of Christ, the Trinity, salvation by grace alone by faith alone, and so forth. This can be anything from outright rejection of the inerrancy of the Bible to just ignoring His Word and concentrating on other things. If we ever water down the Bible, thinking we can attract more people, we delude ourselves. This is in essence saying that the Holy Spirit is not good enough or powerful enough and we must invent stuff to get people into the Church. The Church must preach the Word with passion, compassion with conviction, with clarity, and in truth-without compromising or diluting it. We can be more entertaining, make our messages more relevant and applicable, and become better communicators, but not replace teaching with entertainment! If so, we are deluded by our dilution. A church will stand or fall on the truth of His Word; water it down and it will fail. If by some chance you grow, take careful heed; a big, weak church is not good in His sight but a small, strong church is glorifying to Him. Even if people leave, we are still to preach and teach powerfully and in truth. Even if we suffer financially and personally, we are not to ever, ever water down God's most precious Word! Never, never, never! And, if I have not made my point yet, here is another- never!
· The Failure to Love. Churches fail because they forget that Christ is the Ultimate LOVE! He gives us the ultimate assurance! We have incredible assurance that nothing can separate us from God's love. Thus, if God is for us, then we need not fear anything such as trials, troubles, problems, setbacks, highs, lows, the devil, or even death. There should be no reason in our lives to keep us from growing in His love and living the triumphant, full Christian life, full of passion and conviction in serving for the glory of our Lord, no matter what we have been through or will go through! Our failure to obey God by not loving Him and others will cause us to lose out on so much in life and in eternity. Our diligence to remain faithful and obedient with virtue will help enable others to do so, too. When we obey God, He will reward us beyond our ability to fathom. The solution is simple; pay attention to Christ, not to falsehoods or pride (Psalm 86:5; 145:4-13; Rom. 8:31-39; 1 Cor. 13).
· Not being Good. Goodness is the Fruit with which virtue and the rest of the characters combine to produce endearment. It is the character that makes people liked and even loved by others. When we as a church are not being good, such as refusing to care, being unforgiving, not operating in the Spirit and Fruit, it leads to dissention and strife. When we fight against one another, we have to see how hurtful and even pathetic it is in God's eyes! By the Spirit's empowerment, we can model the character of Christ. We can be positively responsive to others; God is concerned with how we are with one another as well as how we are with Him. We readily confess our faithfulness on Sunday, but by Monday, our confession is gone. We desire God to be a blessing machine, while we are impatient and disrespectful to what He wants us to learn. When we have confidence in God and in His plan and purpose for our lives, we can then act on faith (Prov. 25:22; Matt. 7:12; 19:16; Luke 6:27, 35; Rom. 8:28-39; 12:17; 2 Cor. 5:20; 1 Pet. 3:11; 2 Pet. 1:2-12).
· Prayer is Seen as a Last Resort Rather than at the Forefront. The leadership of a given church is not praying. This transpires the mindset that we want to direct our church our way, without His help, and be independent in our thinking, with the belief that this is maturity and progress. In fact, this is regress and apostasy. Sounds like, who would do that? Well, most churches with whom I have consulted in the last ten-plus years that are failing had no prayer life, either in groups, in the pulpit, or in the leader's homes. From my doctoral research, I found that none of the churches that failed prayed, and the ones that did pray were often superficial and prideful. Perhaps liturgy and ceremonial prayers were spoken, but not the heartfelt seeking of God. Real prayer starts in the homes of the pastor and leaders; then, the leadership comes together to pray. There is prayer in the pulpit, in the service, and in all groups in the church, both scheduled and not scheduled. A church must always seek His face reverently and passionately! If we try to run our churches without prayer, we are running them without our Cornerstone. We cannot do His call, His work, or our Christian life without His lead and relationship. Prayer must be utmost and foremost for His purpose to be in our churches.
· Embracing the Postmodern Mindsets of Political Correctness. Our virtue leaves us when we start to reject moral absolutes and forsake accountability to our Lord. This forms a void that we fill with all kinds of things meant to fulfill people's "felt needs" except solid Christian formation that is essential for their "real needs." Even if the doctrine of a church is rock solid, moving off the Cornerstone can be replacing what the Bible teaches with trends. Or, it can be just administering the business of the church as the main function of the church instead of discipling.
· Ministry is Just a Job. A lot of churches make the mistake of thinking that pastors are just "hired hands" that are holding a job, when, in fact, we are not. Pastors are the shepherds called to walk in humility, in boldness, and always in the parameters of His Fruit (Col. 3:12-17). Thinking that ministry is only for pastors who are hired to do our work creates disharmony with God and the purpose of His Church. This causes pastors and their flock to compromise externally to worldly pressures or to power factions within the church in order to be politically correct (internal church pressures), or compromise to distorted thinking, power plays, creating or bowing to personal agendas that are not biblical or Spirit led, or following bad trends.
· Forgetting about Discipleship and Replacing it with our Pride and Ideas. We pastors become the problem as our lust for numbers supersedes our call and ability to equip and nurture those we have. This means we are neglecting them to chase after others and thus, we create a shallow church of a compromised message and an absence of relevant biblical instruction. First of all, it is His role to send people; we do invite and make our church comfortable, hospitable, and such. But, never cheat His Word or negate discipleship, for doing so does not bring more people. In fact, most of the growing churches are not watering the Word down, but quite the opposite. When we fail to disciple our people, we fail to honor God, obey His imperatives, and serve Him. Even if our church meets in a former sports stadium filled to the rim with people, if we are not equipping people in their spiritual formation and honoring His Word, we are failing His call and our real purpose (Matt. 28:18-20; Eph. 4:11).
· Chasing Trends and not Following Christ! As a Church Growth Consultant, I stay current on the latest trends. I have started some, followed many, and found that most are absent of truth, longevity, and effectiveness, whereas honoring Christ builds a real, strong, and healthy church. All too often, we forget why we are doing church and slip into a concession to what we think may work better, looking for the latest and greatest personalities or programs and following ideas rather than His Word. Yes, we can glean some good stuff. But, any church that has a problem with compromise or is not discipling, teaching, or operating in the Spirit and Fruit are failing. Such a church must repent, drop to its knees, seek His face, and get rid of anyone who refuses to comply with His Way. We must get rid of the weeds to grow healthy wheat and, of course, do it in love and in Matthew 18.
· Entertaining without Substance. If your church leadership's desire is to merely entertain the people, and your people just want to be entertained, you have a huge problem. The church is not to be about entertainment; rather, the reverence, worship, and supremacy of Christ are to be the first and foremost concerns. It is OK to be creative; it is not OK to compromise His message! You must rethink who you are as a church, and what your purpose is. We have helps for you in our "Church Leadership" Channel. Take the risk and challenge your leaders and people to grow in Christ.
If you think your church is ok, consider these points:
· Does Your Church have a Weak Bible? Maybe you think not. But, does your church teach that the Bible is not inerrant or inspired? God's Word is for faith, practice, and is to be our authority for all that we do. Is God's Word central to the everyday life and happenings at your church? If not, then books, movies, and philosophy or psychology will take its place such as Bible studies started to study someone's book (Can I say that is ok if it is one of my books? Oh, I guess not.), and not one of the 66 God has given, taking the words of men over the words of God. Of course it is ok to read and use good Christian books, curriculums, study helps, and such, as long as the Bible is studied first and foremost. Make sure that any programs of study, even those of ITW, are used only as an addendum alongside God's Word. His Word is the authority and not some other book. If your church thinking or ministry model takes the words of mere men and uses that to supersede or replace His Word, this is apostasy in action. If your Bible is weak, you have a Church of Perfidy!
· Watering Down His Word with Trends and the Ideas of Men. Perhaps not, you think. What about the preaching in your church? Is it Christ-centered or human-centered? Are you being seeker sensitive yet not communicating Christ's Sovereignty and Lordship, His holiness and Supremacy (Col.1)? Are psychology and the over-use of illustrations and stories taking the place of expository preaching? There is nothing wrong with using the insights of science and behavioral science, as long as we come clean with the veracity of sin and personal responsibility. Are you just teaching popular topics that please people rather than going through the Scriptures verse by verse, thus not teaching? A church does not have to be liberal to water down the Word; it is done in conservative churches all of the time by the neglect of it! If your preaching is weak from a biblical standpoint, you have a Church of Perfidy!
· Does Your Church Buy into the Relativism of Your Culture? Does your church teaching or ministry model consider that Jesus is just a way but not the Way? He is to be THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life (John 14-15; Acts 4:12). What about teaching that there are no right or wrong absolutes, therefore neglecting morals and virtue? What about trying to be so careful not to offend anyone that we do not say anything to convict or to instruct? How can a person be challenged to grow if we do not redirect his or her path in love, and, when needed, call a spade a spade? What about the embracing of sin, saying it is OK in an attempt to show love and acceptance? This might include embracing homosexuality and saying it is OK. We are called to reach out to all those who are in any kind of sin, including homosexuals, but at the same time, we are not to accept the sin. We are to care and love and show them Christ without compromising morality or His precepts. What about failing to confront people in sin or to condemn the sins of our culture? We must live by example as well as point out errors-not only in our church but also in our society (Exodus 20:1-17; Rom. 1:16-32; 1 Cor. 6:9). We must be careful here, as we can easily slip off His Cornerstone and become a Church of Perfidy!
· Is Jesus Lord or are Culture and Trends "Lord?" This indicates the replacing of biblical thinking and teaching with the latest trends in church growth, or ministry models that are not Christ-centered. This can come from outright rejection of His Lordship to a weakening of it, such as liberalism. And, it usually comes in to the Conservative Evangelical and Reformed churches as embarrassment to proclaim Him boldly, or as the embracing of weak ministry models. Perhaps, we fear reprisal from liberal-minded people, or even misguided fellow Christians, if we are fundamental (as in from convictions with his Truth) in our approach. So, we keep to ourselves and no one knows who we are either at work or in our own families. His Way is not being lived out. This also comes to us by our thinking that we are being relevant and accepting, when we are actually betraying his Lordship. Yes, we can be relevant and not compromise! We are to be real and accepting but not compromising; a line must be drawn to which we must be held. If this is not so in the leadership, they must be stepped down, then trained and discipled. The leadership must set the example to model His Way in humility, servant hood, and in the boldness to exercise discipline when necessary. There is never a call to be offensive to others; rather, we are to be bold in His Fruit. Make sure, if you follow any models or trends, that they are biblical and not compromising or you will have a Church of Perfidy!
Other Areas that Need Attention and Health Indicators
· Your church is healthy if there is quality and consistent participation by more than 20% of your membership in outreach to the community! If you are not reaching out, you have a big problem.
· Your church is healthy if the training, mobilization, support, and sending out of missionaries here and overseas is occurring. Your church budget is the clue to what is important and what is not. If you are not sending and supporting people to do the Lord's work, then what are you doing (Matt. 28:18-20)?
· Your church is healthy if your congregation is involved and there is participation in leadership. If people are not involved, you have a big problem.
· Your church is healthy if there is healthy communication and contribution. Grievances are welcomed, discussed, and dealt with in a mutual loving and beneficial way. If there is not effective communication, or if there are hidden dealings (not to betray confidences), you are creating distrust between your people and your leadership, and you have a big problem.
· Your church is healthy if there is an attitude of servant leadership and mutual respect. If you are not honoring, equipping, and encouraging one another by modeling Christ, you have a big problem (Prov. 27:17-18)!
· Your church is healthy if it is a place where people, both visitors and members, feel welcomed. People can be facilitated to learn and grow where hospitality is extended, where there is no favoritism or prejudice, and where the Fruits of the Spirit are in operation. If your church is not bearing Fruit, you have a big problem.
· Got love? Your church is healthy if you are loving, caring, and concerned for the members and the community. If you do not love, you have a big, big problem!
· Your church is healthy if you are reaching out to the youth with good programming and quality discipleship. If the youth are not welcomed, then Christ is not welcomed!
· Your church is healthy if people are going to services to worship Christ. You do not want to see people going to church only out of obligation, habit, or family pressures. We come together to learn of Christ, to honor Him, and allow Him into our lives. Allow Christ to intrude even where you do not want Him to. If your church is not Christ-centered and your leadership is not Christ-centered, you have a big problem. You are not a church; and to be more precise, you are just a club!
When we are not properly lined up with His Cornerstone, we are betraying our Lord. In Scripture, this is called committing adultery, meaning to betray God as if to say, Jesus is my Savior, but I do not need to trust in Him, and I do not need to obey His precepts and morals. I am saved by Christ alone, by faith alone. However, I will not it allow to touch my daily life. I can do as I see fit (Judges 17:6; James 2: 14-26). This is called antinomianism in theology, meaning anti-law. It is an unbiblical belief that denies the righteousness of God and sees our grace as allowing total freedom in all that we do or can do as a license to sin; thus, we do not need to be obedient to God, His precepts, civil law, or any moral standards-nor do we need to bear Fruit. God says this is evil as it portrays evil as being good (Jer. 23:14; Rom. 2:22; 6:1-2; 14-15; 13:8, 10; Gal. 5:14; 6:2; Gal. 5:22-25; Jude 4; Rev. 2:22).
The Living Stone is defined as a dwelling! Dwellings need to be cared for, maintained, preserved, and, of course, used. His dwelling is where we can take rest and comfort out of the "weather" of life, and then regroup, recharge, and go out into the world with His Word in our hearts, attitudes, and minds. The incredible news of this is we still remain in His dwelling. When we go out, we are still inside His presence and care. His Living Stone is also the mobile Stone; thus, wherever we go, we are still under His shelter and care, no matter where we are or what we face. When we care for Him, we are being "acceptable to God" (Rom. 15:14-16; 1 Pet. 2:5). God accepts us by His sacrifice for our sins (Heb.13: 15-16). Because of His work, we are complete in Him, we are deeply loved and accepted, and we do not need acceptance by any other person or means to be fulfilled (Col. 1:21-22; 2:13-15; James 1:4; 1 John 4:9-11)!
The cornerstone in building construction was of the highest quality, and cut in precision to the design. It was either the top cap of an arch or the corner of the foundation, each one critical to design integrity and stability. If we guide our church incorrectly or without the pursuit of excellence and holiness, the structure-the purpose of His Church-will not be built accurately and might fail. The matter of choosing how we see and use our Cornerstone is essential to where we are going in our faith both personally and collectively. Do not go astray; do not compromise to please anyone, or your church will be the Church of Perfidy!
The propose of the Church is to know Christ, encounter Him, worship Him, grow in Him, and then, when we leave those physical doors, make Him known to others. We cannot let our pride, petty whims, and trends derail us from our core principles distilled from biblical precepts. The bottom line is that we must be willing and able to get rid of anything that contradicts or compromises the Word of God! It is OK to search and use insights from varying sources. In fact, that is what we do here at Into Thy Word as we research and develop curriculum to help you grow closer to Him personally, and run your church more biblically for His glory. However, it is never too late to repent and turn your church around! I have made many mistakes, personally. I have followed bad trends and have started some. I have been prideful and perhaps broken all of the above precepts from time to time. But, God is a God of grace and forgiveness; He still uses me, and He will use you, too. However, we can be better. Let us be willing to grow in Him and serve Him in love and faithfulness, setting aside our pride and will; then our churches will be healthy and vibrant for His wondrous glory!
Richard Joseph Krejcir is the Founder and Director of Into Thy Word Ministries, a missions and discipling ministry. He is the author of several books including, Into Thy Word, and A Field Guide to Healthy Relationships. He is also a pastor, teacher, and speaker. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California (M.Div.) and holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Practical Theology in London, England (Ph.D). He has garnered over 20 years of pastoral ministry experience, mostly in youth ministry, including serving as a Church Growth Consultant.perfidia, Perfidy, Church of Perfidy, rebelling, abandonment, apostasy, disobedient,
© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org