The content of this post is satirical. If this is directed at any one person, it is Matthew Johnson. Oh, how I need to remind myself that Christ died for his church and to ask myself if I am building up that which he died for tearing it down.
A church is an assembly of sinful albeit justified people who have spiritually covenanted together in order to know God and to make him known. While most members of solid local churches do not usually think of the best way to damage or even destroy their church, with only a little effort it is possible. Below are five ways which any member of a church can use in order to either destroy a church or at the very least render it ineffective for the cause to which it has been called. It needs to be known that in order to be effective in destroying a church, you must be a part of one. For a long time, governments, tyrants, philosophers, and other individuals outside of the body of Christ have sought to destroy and damage churches, but found that in the persecution and attacks, churches actually grew. Sometimes, where wolves in sheep’s clothing fail, the sheep in wolves’ clothing succeed. So without further ado I present five ways to damage/destroy your local church.
- Don’t Pray. When public prayer is being offered in the assembly allow your mind to wander, or better yet run through the list of people in your mind that irritate you and all the things about the church and ministry that you don’t like. If the minister or person praying goes longer than ten minutes then be certain to get restless and make noise so he can realize that this is making you uncomfortable. Don’t attend prayer meetings. These times where Christians gather together to intently pray for the needs of the church and the glory of God through the advance of the gospel can be detrimental to the destruction of a church. Do everything you can to avoid them. And the most important, never pray outside of church. Busy yourself with much so that you just do not have time to pray for the leadership, the saints, the gospel furtherance. If perhaps, you do find yourself praying, be certain that your prayers are either general or aimed at criticizing certain persons (members, pastors, deacons, teachers, etc.) Use a lot of impreccatory prayers for those with whom you really don’t like. This leads us into the second successful way to destroy your church.
- Be Critical. Great damage can be done if you just complain and criticize as much as you can about the church. Don’t frame things that you are wondering as questions, but only use accusations. Criticism is a great tool to pressure people into conforming to what you want them to do. Notice when the music has a little more beat than you are comfortable with. Take note when the musicians are a little off. Make a catalog of how often your pastors or teachers misquote or flub up a sermon. Look for ways to point out the failures and weaknesses of others. Pastors especially can do great damage by guilting members into submission through criticism. This not only will help damage your church, but it will also make you feel better about yourself in the process. It is probably necessary to point out how the decorations in the building are out of style or how annoying that guy is. If you are creative, you can actually find a lot of ways to implement criticism in your church.
- Be Judgmental! Jesus said that by our love for one another we demonstrate our connection to Christ as disciples. Therefore, if we can stand in judgment over one another, no one will know we are disciples of Jesus. The best way to be judgmental is to compare everyone and everything not to the Word of God and Truth, but to myself and what I believe is “my truth.” When someone lets you down, lower your voice and speak of how you cannot respect them…by all means do not forgive them. Be ready to catch people in their failings that way you can not only show your superiority, but also show your humility in being so ready and quick to rebuke. If you are looking for a softer way to be judgmental. Do all these things but do them in your mind, not publicly; this way, you can still be judgmental but no one has to know. As long as we are judging another, we will not be able to hear our pesky conscience and the Holy Spirit convicting us.
- Gossip. One of the greatest ways to destroy your church is to gossip. Gossip is hard to identify but easy to do so this one takes little effort. Just don’t talk to people concerning disagreements; talk about people concerning disagreements. There are many ways a person can gossip but without that nasty label being attached. One such way is to provide “prayer requests” for people who have “issues.” Another is to start with, “I am not gossiping, I am just concerned with what so and so is doing?” Above all, start your story with “I have been praying about this and God laid it on my heart to tell you…” This way, the recipient of the story can not possibly stop you from doing God’s will. Another way to be involved with the gossip train while not getting your hands dirty is to simply listen to others’ gossip because “people just talk with me.”
- Do Nothing. Finally, the fifth way in which one can effectively render his church useless is to do nothing. Attend as few services as possible, sit in the pews and listen to the sermon halfheartedly. Do not talk about spiritual things to other members of the church, give the minimum in the offering that makes you feel good about yourself. Never, ever refer to the church as “us,” “we,” or “our church.” Always say, “your church.”Only volunteer to serve after having received a “guilt trip.” Don’t be creative in gospel ministry, and by no means share your faith with your co-workers or neighbors. In fact, if you just sit back and stay as aloof as possible, never making connections, never serving, but only ever taking from the church; enough damage will be done that when the struggling church begins to sputter and die, you can pick up your family and go somewhere else without a guilty conscience. Pastors once again can really help with this one. Presenting little opportunity for feedback, micro-managing, or criticizing servants will push them to desire to serve no one.
Of course I hope we all realize that these five, while Biblically accurate, are not desired and this author is using the literary device of satire to arrest our thinking. God give us the wisdom and grace to glorify his name in the church, not to tear it down. Proverbs 6:19 describes one who “sows discord among brothers” as being an abomination to God. This doesn’t mean that discord is abominable-it happens. But one who sows it, plants it, cultivates it instead of resolving it is being described by several of these five points. Please dear reader, take what is written here as a warning, not criticism–the leadership as well as the membership of a local church must be serious about building up God’s church. For how can we exalt the name of the One who died for the church, if we are not actively building up that which he died for? God give us the grace to exalt the local church, not destroy it.