We live in a world that is changing with new technology by the second. Over the last three years we witnessed the rise of netbooks as an alternative to bigger, more expensive laptops. They popped up everywhere. Now, they are fading out of the market due to changes in laptop computers and the explosion of tablets like the iPad. Cisco made headlines this week by canceling the Flip Video Camera line. Flip cameras were all the rage a couple of years ago, but smart phones with equal (or better) video capability made them obsolete. That’s just how things go sometimes – the thing that’s the hot item one day, can be gone the next. Most people can look back on the days when they had a tape player, but now it’s just a memory of something that has faded away because of a better alternative. Given enough time, everything that is popular today will someday be obsolete.
Now remove the name of your favorite tech item from 30 years ago and insert “the church.” Church was all the rage back in the day. Everybody went to church. It’s just what you did. However, things change over time and the church was replaced by better alternatives. The biggest movement in the religious world today is to get away from the “stuffy, traditional” church experience and come to God on your own terms. People will tell you “I don’t need church. I come to God in my own way.” I even heard someone say recently “I don’t go to church. Me and God have an understanding.” My first response was “Oh really? Did God sign off on this understanding?” After giving it some thought, though, I realized that it’s time to start taking these people seriously. Has the church “jumped the shark”? Will the church go the way of Flip cameras and fade away at the rise of something more efficient?
Is the church becoming obsolete?
1. No, the church is not becoming obsolete. The church can never become obsolete. Jesus is our Way to God and so whatever He says goes. In Matthew 16 He made it clear that the church would be established as God’s kingdom. We cannot come to God outside of His church. The entire New Testament was written for the church, and all the Christians in it submitted themselves to God as members of His church. You can’t come to “an understanding” with God if you aren’t willing to serve Him in the way He outlined. You don’t see any Israelites in the Old Testament saying they won’t offer sacrifices or worship at the temple because they want to come to God in their own way. God is serious about His commands. If He established the church, it’s foolish of anyone to think they can work around it on their way to Him.
2. Yes, the church is becoming obsolete, but not in the way the non-church movement says it is. The church that Jesus established will never be obsolete on this earth. However, I can understand why many are trying to find a way around the church. I know that a lot of them are just looking for an excuse to sleep in on Sundays, but there are some that really get fed up with the politics and cliques that have arisen in churches. If you can’t break into a clique, you won’t be welcomed at some churches. The longer you spend at a congregation, the more you become aware of the politics that go on between people. It can become very discouraging. Any church that behaves like that is quickly moving towards becoming obsolete.
The problem here is that both sides continue to move away from where they are supposed to be. Those who are moving away from traditional congregations claim they only want to show the love of Jesus. When they walk away from the Lord’s church, who do they show that love to? Those in the church that push others away by being cliquish or political are correct in following the Scriptures regarding the church and worship, but if the love of Christ isn’t there, we aren’t any better.