Problems In the Church

One of the things I enjoy about blogging is the opportunity to discuss theological topics with other bloggers who may have a different understanding than my own of a particular point of doctrine. It is particularly good when the varied opinions can be set forth sans name-calling, generalizations and straw men.

 Such has been the case for me for nearly a year now on the topic of church methodology. I came across Steve Sensenig’s blog several months ago and found his posts discussing simple church as an alternative to more traditional models to be a refreshing departure from the usual fare of stale debates that was being served on the blogging buffet.

While Steve and I frequently found ourselves on different sides of the ecclesiomethodological (how do you like that word? I just made it up) coin, we have benefited from the iron sharpening that has taken place through our discussions. I have been forced to re-examine my position on several points. While I may not have changed my mind on many of them, I have gained a better grip on why I believe what I believe about church, as well as a broader understanding of how God is working through methods different than those I am using.

Rayborn Johnson, David, Tony Sisk, Alan Knox and Heather (among others) have taken part in the discussion as well, posting their thoughts in articles on their own blogs (except for David, who really should start a blog 🙂 ). I want all of you to know what a blessing you each have been to me in our exchanges.

I have engaged in the discussion on their blogs, but to this point I have not written anything related on my own blog. The more I thought about it, I felt uncomfortable with the thought of debating something on someone else’s blog without being willing to address it on my own. I have been giving it a lot of thought, however, and I believe that I have some thoughts that I would like to share in a manner that is consistent with the objectives that I have for Heavenly Heartburn.

I want to say from the outset of my post(s) that it is not my intent to promote one “style” of church over another. While, in the discussions, I may have defended traditional church methods, I do not believe that they are inherently superior to other methods. I am going to try my best to keep my thoughts from degenerating into a “traditional church vs simple church” debate.

I say this because I am coming to realize through these discussions that the Bible really has very little to say on the topic of ecclesiomethodology (I really like that word). I am becoming convinced that God is less concerned with how we “do” church than He is with how we “are” church (I believe Alan said something to this effect one time). This is not to say that there are no wrong methods, there are, but I do not believe that the most glaring symptoms of problems of the church today have been produced by the methods we employ. Neither do I believe that the solution to these problems is a matter of practice. The roots of the problems as well as the solutions lie beneath the surfaces of hurt, frustration and apathy that so often characterize the modern church.

While the Scriptures may not say much on methods, I do believe the solutions are to be found there. I hope to address one of those tomorrow.

16 responses to “Problems In the Church

  1. Gordon,

    Great post! I’m looking forward to your post tomorrow.

    I agree that “being” church is much more important that “doing” church. In fact, I believe that our “doing” comes out of our “being”. I am not for simple church. Neither am I for traditional church. I am also not for house church. What am I for? The church being the church that God has called it, empowered it, and supplied it to be. Whatever “method” – to be honest, I hate that word, because it puts the emphasis on the wrong thing – whatever “method” we choose must first pass through the filter of being the church.

    Again, I’m looking forward to further discussion.


  2. Alan, thanks for the kind words. I can say that I relate to your sentiments toward the church. I firmly believe that whatever we “do” for Christ should be an overflow of what we become when we sit at His feet.

  3. Hey Gordon! I, too, am looking forward to your post tomorrow 🙂 …

    You are right — It is particularly good when the varied opinions can be set forth sans name-calling, generalizations and straw men. This is what I have liked about reading your comments and I pray that the same can be said about me and mine.

    Oh, and I like your new word 😉



  4. i am a recent blogger. i have been using my blog to primarily post a book that i am in the process of writing. but now i have really enjoyed sharing and discussing with other christians who have different viewpoints as well. because i have been forced to truly understand why i believe what i believe.

    i look forward to anything you may post about methodology. i thought that steve had some interesting things to talk about when i checked out his page. i also have a little experience with a house church i started. i would love to get in the conversation.

    for Him

  5. Hey, Gordon. Great start to this topic. I promise not to “debate” too much here. In fact, I’m probably going to sit back and digest all that you have to say in these posts rather quietly. I’ve been getting so many words in this topic for a long time, and it’s time for you to “get a word in edgewise” 😉

    You and I are (and Alan) are very much in agreement on the important issues here — specifically “being” the church. That is what drives me in my writing, too. I sincerely hope that hasn’t gotten lost in what would appear to be “simple” vs. “conventional” or whatever.

    And, like Heather, I love the word you coined!! ecclesiomethodology — it should be a word!!

    Love you, brother!!
    steve 🙂

  6. Heather and Peter, welcome to Heavenly Heartburn. Heather, I think it was “inevitable” that I would eventually post on this topic. 🙂

    Seriously, I have always enjoyed our discussions.

    Steve, I value your opinion and your friendship. Feel free to discuss or observe as much as you like.

  7. That is a great word. Looking forward to these posts.

  8. Gordon,

    I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts. I definitely like what I’ve read in this post so far. (especially the new word)

    I sense the desire of your heart is to be sensitive to the direction that others may be heading. I appreciate that about you 🙂

    Be blessed, Gordon!

  9. Good post–looking forward to tomorrow’s fare on the buffet. I also have found blogging very challenging. I have asked how I have fallen into the blogging crowd I have, but I always come back to the same answer.

    Its the challenge to evaluate what I believe and why against Scripture. You, Steve, Raborn, Alan, Cameron, and David (who should start his own blog, btw) have caused me to rethink more than I ever would have if I had never gotten involved in this little corner of bloggerville. Thanks to all of you for putting up with me.

    Be blessed and encouraged.

  10. Beverly and Christy, thanks so much for the kind words. You sisters in Christ are a real blessing to me.

    Tony, whatever benefit you have derived from blogging with this corner of the ‘sphere, I promise you has been reciprocated by what you have brought to the table.

  11. I love the new word Gordon…LOL…I sprained my tongue saying it.

    I can’t wait for you to start…I am waiting in anticipation!

  12. I can’t wait to read your insights!

  13. Tim A. Blankenship

    I am looking forward to reading more.

  14. Thanks, y’all. I hope you aren’t disappointed.

  15. “The Church is not where we go, but who we are”

    I have been encouraging ministry leaders to reverse the thinking process we have held for so long about what is the right way to grow the church.

    We need to bring the church home into the environment where people interact the most.

    To often the Corporate Church blames the congregation for it’s problems. “If only” is the phrase most used.

    I dare to say the problem is not the congregation. It’s us in leadership not enabling the congregation to function as a disciple of Jesus in thier own environment vs assimilating them into a church environment.

    I am a supporter of the corporate and simple church concept along with other venues as long as the end result is spiritual transformation and active disciples at the grass roots level.

    We have found a way to bond “traditional church vs simple church” together that is producing amazing results.

    What is happening in our Neighborhood and the neighborhoods around us as a result of reversing our thinking process as to how we connect and bring transformation to people is nothing short of astonishing.

    I’ve never seen anything like it.

    You have to experience it firsthand to believe it.


  16. Gordon,
    Looking forward to your thoughts. Thanks for your input 🙂

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