If you read Part I, proceed to paragraph 5. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” John 2:16
Part one posed many thoughts about the current challenges facing our churches. Shamingly, I writes churches, a subtle admission of the largest problem we face, while challenging us all to take a close look at ourselves with sober judgment and face a sad reality or ignore warnings and trends.
As we continue to look at the marketplace, we find Christ encountering the temple before the Passover. He wandered into the courts and saw up close the wickedness that had emerged in the place that was to provide a medium for healing and restoration. He stood face to face with the place, no doubt, many had complained about the scales used to determine whether one was forgiven or in limbo with the Lord. While many approached God with a contrite heart, they were instructed that there best wasn’t good enough for the Lord. The system that was created to facilitate, no majored on regulating, leaving more wounded than whole.
Our Lord fashioned a whip and declared, “Stop turning my Fathers House into a Market” reading this, I thought of today’s circumstances and wrote, “New Temple; Same Market.”
Today’s Temples are absolutely amazing. I’m sure upon Christ return that He will visit each one and sign up for the guided tour of each of our localities. I can imagine that He will take pictures in our pulpits, possibly baptize a few in our baptismal pools, and recline in our offices, later taking a ride in our vehicles which He blessed us with. Nah! We know what His return will be like, but not to let the moment pass, when Jesus encountered this Temple, he wasn’t impressed with the operation, He was angered by the misuse of His Fathers house. It was not created to be a for profit, it was to be a non profit directed by a Prophet that was not focused on making a profit, but doing what was profitable for ones soul. (I know the Prophet didn’t control the temple, I’m bridging to today).
New Temple; Same Market Pt. 2
With the house out of order, He paused the festivities to clean house! I am convinced that the same would occur in many places today. Jesus prays to God about the disciples, the church, and their role in what was to come. Thus we too must clean house. We must focus on the Message of Christ and being like Christ; correcting un-christlike behavior. And when abuse occurs in the ranks and pew, we must reestablish the will of Christ within our walls.
“I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:23
Jesus stressed Kingdom, as in One, not Kindgoms as in many. Though there is freedom and beauty in the variety of praise, there is nothing beautiful or freeing about the many messages from the messengers. Confusion exists when seekers hear speakers promoting political and personal agendas. It is as though there is no truth today. Truth is no relative to the audience one is trying to reach it seems. Market studies reveal the perfect Message for tingling ears, and many have chosen to deliver it line by line though to fill empty seats. These things result in a rejection of truth, a group that don’t have the truth in them, and creates a pew filled with cynics.
Each time my Grandfather and I speak, he says, “There is a difference in a church and a congregation. We have too many congregations! We must be the church!” Pastor Buford Horn (#grandpahorn) “What’s the problem you ask?” Many of our churches are congregating around ideals and values that don’t align with Christ! And for many, they aren’t disciples, rather people who are similar and use the church as a place to congregate and do commerce.
John Maxwell said at the GROW conference, “The world is motivated by an untapped market. Are you motivated by the unsaved?” Which brings us to our next issue in the market, competition. It’s not the competition that is the issue, rather the ones being competed for. Maxwell spoke to us, “If I told a business man that 60% portion of a the market was virgin, he wouldn’t hear the rest of my presentation.” He gently scolded us, confronting us will a sad reality. Much of our growth has been movement not salvation’s. Some have catered Sunday mornings not for the unsaved, but have designed our worship and temples to gather the largest portion of the existing market-share possible. We are not creating an audience, we are competing for an audience.
Yes, people need a place to worship. Yes, we need to track down the one and reach those who have fallen out of fellowship. These are responsibilities placed on the Shepherd and his team, but the great commission refocuses us on our main task. It’s to take the Message and create more Messengers that can take the Message and create more Messengers. It seems we have fallen in love with the twelve and crowds and forgotten about the cross. Why were we sent? To whom where we sent?
If we are anything like our Christ, we would see a shift in our target audience! There are still poor, prisoners, blind and oppressed in the hedges and highways. And as long as these aren’t our focus, the country club atmosphere and mentality will continue to plague or congregations, and keep us from becoming the church of Jesus Christ.