Church Social Clubs
Most of us are familiar with the social club mentality of many churches; extravagant entertainment, feel-good programs, focus on busyness, and messages that are a self-improvement book covered in Christian lingo.
Our knee jerk reaction is that being a glorified social club is wrong. However, with some further thought, I think what we all need to realize, especially if we are in a church, is that all churches are social clubs. It is a healthier and safer viewpoint because that is the extent of what they provide; encouragement, support, connections, activities, and stimulating conversations. The problem is that people want and look to them as a source of truth, to enhance their relationship with God, to bind their wounds, to give them freedom, to bring peace, hope and rest to their lives; all the things that only truly come from cultivating intimacy with God in His truth, His Word.
However, churches appear to be gladly taking on this other role, which is outside the scope of their abilities, because when people are dependent on you it is good for business. Even with good intentions, trying to be what they can’t misleads people and destroys souls. I was such a soul. Our souls starve because we mistakenly rely on the wrong one for true life. God and His Word is the fountain of truth which brings true life. Churches are a reservoir of people’s interpretations, doctrines, rules and regulations with some truth sprinkled in. Many people end up worse off than when they started because they don’t realize they are hanging out at the wrong watering hole and thinking they have arrived at truth they stopped looking.
The majority of Christians are not living the abundant life that Jesus Christ came to give because they are relying on other broken people when they need to rely on God. People try to get out of teachers, pastors, leaders, programs, and ministries what they should be seeking from God and churches reinforce their warped dependency in what they don’t say, in what they praise and what they encourage.
As I read the New Testament, it seems clear that truth and an intimate relationship with God which brings abundant life come from time with Him in the Holy Scriptures being taught by the Spirit. (John 14:26, 1 Corinthians 2:12-13, 1 Corinthians 15:34, 1 John 2:27, 2 Timothy 2:15, 7, 2 Timothy 3: 14-15.) Yet this truth is often overlooked and people continue to give fallible humans, who are trying to figure it out just as they are, God’s role.
Churches are playing a role that they weren’t meant to play. If we openly acknowledge and call church what it is, a social club, then maybe we will start heading in the right direction; looking to our God not man for truth and life. Even then we need to be very careful and aware of churches’ influence over our thinking, beliefs and lives.