Today marks the 499th anniversary of the Reformation. Christian are rejoicing in what this day means while others are scratching their heads thinking October 31st was just for Halloween. As I look the 21st century church, I keep wondering if the church needs another reformation. I have to say yes to that question.
Where does the church need to be reformed? The first area I see is the Bible. What I mean is Christians need to read the Bible. A recent article from Desiring God shows that 62% of Americans was to read Scripture more. Which is a good thing but how many of those Americans are actual believers. The Bible was written for God's people God's people are to be people of the book. Its no wonder why so many believers are falling for false teachings is because they don't read the Bible. They don't see for themselves what God has written, they rely on the teachings of men which they are need to be held accountable for any wrong teaching. When Christians read the Bible, they will begin to see what sin is because God's Word declares what is dishonorable in His sight.
Its not just reading the Bible that needs reforming, its the preaching of the Bible. I praise God for churches that preach the Bible, not the opinions of man. I am thankful that my church takes time to go through books of the Bible while not trying to be hip and cool with flashy bands and the latest technology to make a concert instead of a worship service. But there are some churches that do not preach the Bible. Some pastors just sit in a chair and give a motivational speech. Some preach the Bible, but they twist the words to make it all about them. We need to preach the Bible as God's Word. We need pastors who are not afraid of what it says, which means there needs to be a return to expositional preaching, which shows us the entirety of God's Word in preaching. One pastor says that's cheating. No, its not. Preaching a sermon around an idea and find verses that fit it, that's cheating. Just preaching a "sermon" without the Bible is cheating as well.
With that being said, another area of reforming with the Bible is trusting that it is sufficient in our preaching and in our witnessing. We should not trust in gimmicks thinking they will lead people to Jesus or help Christians grow, the Bible is enough. Yes, we have other tools such as books, blogs, and conferences, but they should never take the place of the Bible in edifying believers or witnessing to lost people.
A second area of reformation I think needs to happen is the church. We have healthy churches and churches who think they are a church. Some churches stress church membership while others will just let anyone join. What I mean is a church can let an atheist join or someone who is sleeping with a woman who is not his wife. We have churches who have a high view of the Bible and those who do not. We have churches that have a plurality of elders where the buck does not stop with one man while others have a senior pastor in a CEO style position. We need to really go back and see what the church was intended for and how its leaders should be established. I served with pastor who was a recent convert (I did not know he was until a few months after I took the position) and 1 Timothy 3 prohibits new believers from taking the role of a pastor. There needs to be a reformation in how churches produce leaders who are faithful to the word not just because they have a PhD, but because they have been trained by faithful men. We need a reformation in the church to define what the church truly.
Along those lines is the corporate worship of the body of Christ. We need healthy congregational singing and rightful elements in our worship services. In our singing, we need to be more aware of what the songs are saying and where they are coming from. There are churches that will produce great worship albums but their songs should not be sung in our congregations because of the heretical teachings that church has produced.
A third area is holiness. There needs to be a reformation for the church in holiness not just corporately, but also as individuals. This goes back to our view of the Bible. The Bible is a book of holiness. The Bible tells God's people what sin is. What is appropriate and inappropriate for God's people. This also goes with the faithful preaching of the word and confronting God's people with the sin that entangles them. And when sin is confronted in preaching, we must preach the gospel that God has forgiven and can forgive His children. God's people need to be reminded that God calls His people to be holy just as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).
A fourth area is evangelism. Why evangelism? Simply the church has made evangelism so difficult that can make believers who are introverts to question their love for God and the lost. We come up with so many evangelism strategies that some of them seem to contradict each other. Evangelism is a duty, but it is also a privilege because we are introducing people to the God of the universe who has given us His Son to redeem us. Evangelism is simply sharing the gospel with lost people, yet the church has made it complex and hard for some believers to engage in it.
A final area that needs reformation is fellowship. I am not talking about having a potluck after a service, although that is not a bad idea. What I am mean is fellowship with the body throughout the week. Not saying gathering in a building to meet, but also to keep up with one another. We have cell phones where we can text a simple message. We can meet with one another during a lunch break just to see what is going on in each other's life. Fellowship in sharing what God is teaching you through the Word. Also being the church need reformation in fellowship because our common fellowship is based on Christ not what school our kids attend, the jobs we have, or economic status. Jesus is the basis for our fellowship.
I have given you five area, in my opinion, where the church needs to have a modern day reformation. I am sure many would have the same opinions or even a different one. Regardless, if we agree or disagree on these issues, it is clear, the modern day church needs a reformation. I heard someone recently say, "As long as their are impurities, the church will always need reforming" (I think that is the quote but you get the idea).
As we celebrate the 499th anniversary of the Reformation, let us pray that God's will be done in the church:
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21).