A Genuine Church

 January 15th, 2013

Words like Authentic and Genuine are essential to the entire fabric of Christianity. When it comes to our Personal Testimonies As Individual Christians and our Corporate Philosophies As Churches the example of Christ demands a zero tolerance for deception. The word Authentic means conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features, made or done the same way as an original, not false or imitation, something real.

The New Testament at its core is Christ in you, the hope of glory”, Jesus expressing his character through his people. With our identity firmly in Christ, we live out an authentically genuine Christianity! If you are a true Christian, you will be unhappy and eventually miserable when you're sinning (I John 3:9). This doesn't mean you will never sin if you are a Christian
(I John 1:8). But there is a difference between recognizing that we will fail occasionally and going on a willful, continual path of sinful disobedience. If you really are a child of God, you will have a sense of discomfort when you sin, because you know in your heart of hearts that what you are doing is wrong.

A Genuinely Authentic Christian loves and obeys the Word of God (I John 2:5). You cannot effectively live the Christian life without a love for, and obedience to, God's Word. All true disciples of Jesus Christ will be students of Scripture and will walk according to its teaching, because the Bible is indeed the very textbook of a Christians life (II Timothy 3:16). Yet so many believers will not read the Bible. They don't realize that success or failure in the Christian life depends on how much of the Bible they get into their hearts and minds on a regular basis.

A lot of people who go to church resemble Christians, but they lack real authenticity. They have no living, vital relationship with Jesus Christ. Genuinely Authentic Christians are transparent. What you see is what you get with them. They have learned through hard experiences that the transparent life is the only life that brings them the joy and peace of God. So with no pretenses they are honest about what is happening in their own lives and they are honest about issues they have with other people.

I think we’re all sick of being marketed to. You would think the Church in America would get this. Sadly many contemporary churches do not produce true disciples of Christ because their whole ministry philosophy is based upon deception. They attempt to trick sinners into accepting Christ by wrapping the timeless truths of scripture in the culturally relevant packaging of rock music and an anti-traditional church marketing strategy.

There persists in contemporary churches a disdain for the purity of the simple truths of the Bible and the practices of the ancient Church. Many have fallen prey to a business mentality where they like to package the way they express Christianity, and it taints everything they do. Many churches disguise their message in dramas, props and stage productions, novelty’s and entertainment all to attract a non-churched crowd. But people are dying for authenticity. They don’t want to feel marketed to and manipulated. In times such as these, people not only want meaning, they need it for their sanity.

The Church of Jesus is a community with a deep-seated history and a narrative that includes powerful sources of meaning that shouldn’t be subject to constant reappraisal. In its experimentation with being cutting edge, today’s contemporary churches have purposefully fled that history and abandoned its sources of meaning. That the rest of our culture has already done the same, to its obvious detriment and rot, doesn’t seem to register with many modern church leaders.

The result is the cold, anonymous, sterile stage hall that is called a church building. Stripped of every element of sacred heritage and meaning, it transmits nothing except chilling functionality. Worship in many churches consists of a stubble-faced young man who sings contemporary and even secular sounding songs as he leads the congregants with the aid of a praise team and a band in a spiritual pep rally. Whereas they once sang from hymn books that had been handled by generations, they now sing from projected images that must also move, the transience of their cascading imagery preventing boredom.

All of these new worship tricks and trappings leave people dying for the authentic and the genuine thing. People truly seeking God don’t want an efficient church, but a real one. They want a Christianity that is real and unashamed of its heritage that makes a difference in the lives of people, not just discussing doing so while it pursues other agendas. People are sick and tired of how the Church in America is experimenting with the sacred faith of the scriptures. We are burned out by the dog and pony show. Our cynical young people understand this, their cynicism in full fester because no one is listening to them, even when they flee the Church. They want genuine connection to what is lasting and worth preserving.

Making concessions to the world’s compromises has failed to root todays seekers in a genuine faith; in fact, quite the opposite. Whatever roots that many have had, have been dug up, moved from the solid ground of the truth, and transplanted into a styrofoam coffee cup called the contemporary emerging church that doesn’t see how shallow it has become. It doesn’t value what is real. It doesn’t have any idea what people truly need. Oh, it thinks it knows because its leaders read the latest bestseller on how to grow a church. Those making these changes don’t understand what they are doing. They attended a conference somewhere, drank the Kool-Aid at some big mega-church, and bought the whole thing without question. The comeback to any protests is, “Well, our message is the same. We’re still upholding the Gospel.”

The problem with that reasoning is that many of the changes they have embraced are simply deceptive marketing that compromises the message of the gospel. If the emerging contemporary church is anything, it's sensitive to the culture around it. Its leaders are thoughtfully engaged in responding to what they believe are dramatic changes in our society. The leadership of these churches argue against those who are tempted to respond to these changes by clinging to a narrowly defined scriptural  foundation. They believe that idealizing a past era and allowing nostalgia to replace the hard work of contextualizing Christianity for today's realities would be a mistake. Instead, we should discover how best to communicate the gospel to our increasingly postmodern world.

I am sorry but to quote young David when given Saul’s armor in (I Samuel 17:39) “…. I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him.” Let’s reject the compromising, market driven, contemporary, shallow, Christianity of today and return to Genuine Authentic Christianity.