Think On This
State of the Modern Church State of the Modern Church State of the Modern Church Modern Church

The following is the fourth article to date addressing the changes being seen with alarming detail in modern churches. As with the previous, it is more practical in nature in response to this common dilemma occurring in more and more churches today. The upcoming fifth and final article will deal more with specific facts and provide information as to what is behind this movement of the megachurch, or, what is called by them: the new emerging or emergent church. Another term you hear alternately is the seeker church, or, seeker friendly church.

Having looked at some symptoms and tell-tale signs of a new manifesto being introduced within a growing number of churches spanning across denominational lines, we turn now to more practical matters in general for application. Although not intended, what follows will be controversial. But many who read will find in these words a common thread of what is already being sensed within their own hearts. All I ask is that the reader be open minded and, if haven't already, begin their own search, study and examination of this topic.

The consequences of the magnitude of such a broad scale world-wide implementation of a "new church model" cannot be ignored. It must be examined by the serious Bible student and Christian! It must be looked at in light of Bible prophecy. We must heed the warnings of both Jesus' own words when He walked the earth and those inspired by the Holy Spirit written later for our advantage in alertness of end-time events and trends. Not to do so would be perilous. So, I prayerfully write the following and ask for your prayerful consideration.

End Preface

State of the Church Recently, I had a visit from a close family member serving in the ministry. I had visited in his home a couple of years back on a trip to Atlanta. While in L.A., he and his wife spent several days in our home. We had much to catch up on, especially on a topic that has become of great concern to both of us in recent years. That concern continues to grow with sadness. It increases day by day as we cannot help but see and hear what is happening in every big city and most small towns throughout the country, and being exported abroad. After catching up on more personal matters and a time of joy in sharing, the second night he and I sat up in serious conversation until 2am—hearts deeply spiritually burdened for the state of the church and body of Christ as it is changing outwardly. As we shared we both came to learn we were on the same page and note in an understanding of the time we now live within—in stark contrast to previous times we both have served, a time much different when both our fathers served as well who now have entered into their rest.

In that discussion, we talked about the history of the church, how it has had its seasons of renewal and decline over the past 2,000 years, much as Israel in Old Testament times. We both agreed it has become apparent we now have entered, for the lack of a better term or word, an inter-time if you will, a time between what once was in stark contrast to what is now different and developing that is, I believe most likely, setting the stage for the next period in history—the drawing to conclusion of the Gentile era. In this time, keeping in mind the apostate church prophesied to arise in end times, two things are already happening at an alarming rate.

First, the new phenomenon. A church that once stood apart from the world and whose steeple stood as a beacon for a spiritual oasis that drew Christian families and individuals out of our weekly hardships of daily life for renewal in worship with God has become more like the world in today's society. Out of the world we came, bringing lost loved ones, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, etc., to hear the gospel. The church then, by and large, preached Christ crucified and salvation for the sinner, a place for the uplifting and perfecting of the saints. No longer. Take a two minute listen in on one seminar for pastors in transforming their churches using Warren's Purpose Driven Church model: (notice the condescension, mockery, sarcasm and pastors laughing at the put down of a church member—could your pastor have been in attendance? Listen for his voice? When he stands in the pulpit on Sunday, do you know where he's been during the week? Where did he go on that last unreported trip?)

( Conducted by Dan Southerland of Church Transitions, Pastor of Flamingo Road Church, FL at the time.)

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This is not even the tip of the new reindoctrination of church pastors. Take down the cross. Erect a Starbucks. Hire bands. Open bookstores. Add psychologists, counselors, yoga trainers, etc., etc., to the staff. Now the church charms to draw, offering the glitter of worldy attraction for the unregenerate to come to its campuses. Sit back in comfort now and watch a star preacher in 3-D holographic form stand on stage, blurring the distinction more and more between what is real and what is an illusion. (I wonder if this was a technology possibly secretly borrowed by Satan from our century to fool the disciples into thinking they had seen Jesus rise into a cloud on Olivet? Just wondering.) This says Christ is becoming more powerful in a dwindling number of called men, or, it's all about the man and the method. Someday, some man will stand atop the world and will have a ready platform to appear live, as though in person, before a deceived world wide church audience. But it will be too late. Stop the madness now! Just because you can doesn't mean you should. A hand-picked young super preacher piped into every church in the world? Give me a break. Jesus does not need 3-D technology to appear and be heard every where at the same time. In their own words, Southerland, Warren, Hybels and a host of others, tell members the church is no longer for the born again, the saved, the saint. It's not "about them" any more and to get over it. Its all about reaching the "unchurched" and "missions" to a changing secular culture. Its about being popular with and winning the world. And no one is better equipped, funded and qualified than them. They are redefining the church and its mission and using the "bait of the world" as a methodology to draw the unregenerate sinner to what they call, church, twisting Paul's words in becoming all things into a theological pretzel trying to justify their ungodly position. It proselytizes without shame. It welcomes and treats every human condition with the wisdom and skill of men, be it physical, psychological, emotional, academic, to treat holisticly the human nature. Oh yes, and lots of books by church authors to sell to support the glamour that envelops you as you step from your car.

Second, the crumbling and broken old. Somewhere on a back street, even on some main streets, within stone's throw of the previously mentioned monolith stands a church with a steeple and barely 10 cars in its parking lot on any given Sunday, a shell of its former self and glory, its congregants all over the age of 50, or 60. It celebrates its memories with memorials and refuses to go any longer into battle—into the fields white unto harvest. As they grow older without rebirths, they die daily. If they don't die, one of a couple of things happen. To remain financially viable, they merge, only prolonging the inevitable or they are bought out by megachurches and turned into a satellite franchise, receiving their video feed every Sunday from a main campus, often from out of state. If they don't sell out and have $250,000, they can have a first class sound system and streaming video venue projecting a distant star on screen before them each Sunday. Are all this way? Most. This is the new breed of church, pastors, and leaders rising on the scene. They are younger, dress casual (often down right sloppy, to appear cool?), well studied, published, and connected. They see themselves as the big dogs of this generation of church leaders (with blatant disrespect for previous generations of leaders). They run to and fro in the earth dialoguing and promoting each other and their writings and work. They are busy about the business of church and church planting, or better put, duplicating. They constitute and incorporate with church officers named as presidents, vice presidents, executive administrators, etc. But I digress. All cannot be mentioned in the span of this article but one other type emerging to remain relevant is the church that splits but stays within the same complex, using the same facilities. This split is intentional by the leadership, creating a church within a church. The old is set apart, marginalized (and often criticized) in preference to adopting the new model that proceeds full steam in changing the form of worship, appearance and adopting and adapting to the secular culture. Sound familiar? If you're in an older larger church or one with multiple services on Sunday mornings, likely, this is your situation. There are other adaptations but these are typical. There is also the exception—steady, faithful, solid and true—we will address later. Christ always has His wise virgins in every generation who haven't gone chasing after those who say: here, here is Christ, or there, over there is Christ, with crowds running back and forth between events so swiftly one gets a whiplash just watching them (Lk.21:8; Mt.24:5; Mk.13:6)!

Welcome to the megaworld of mass marketing of the church in the footsteps and similar model of Wal-mart and Chic-fil-A. Somehow, we should have seen this coming during the advent of big-box retailers who crush and drive out competition while offering its product at a cheaper price. But wait, a few worldly-wise men did and imported it within the church while recruiting impressionable young men to act as CEO's in its franchise movement! Now its: Join or die, heard within the struggling traditional. But soon there will emerge a new, a third, one which will be constituted by the newly converted and those who are grounded in New Testament doctrine and will be fooled no longer by the today's new dramatic and weary of the complacency of yesterday's old. They will exit both the culturally sensitive colossus and the dying traditional who refuse to grow, realizing neither is an authentic representation of the bride of Christ any longer, not the Church Christ gave His life for and is building upon His rock and will sustain the onslaught of the rising apostasy. This will be the wave of the future, not the two who currently exist—the theatrical currently rising and consuming the traditional—but a third, a true. Its seeds are already planted around the globe and many have survived for two millennia, a fount still of His living water. Change is coming on a grand scale but not the change rising in deceit before the genuine. No, the current change rising in prominence and gaining in mainstream recognition by major denominational institutions and once revered leaders will not be the authentic, even though many modern, or post-modern leaders and practitioners they like to call themselves, promulgate this new vision and revelation as they define it.

In the government of God in His creation, the institution of God's people has never existed in a vacuum in separation from the secular no matter how much immoral men (and women), a few well-intentioned, have tried to separate the two, at various times each ruling the other—America previously striking an healthy balance and separation between the two. God has always been in control of both kingdoms, that of earth and that of heaven. They have run parallel in history according to His final purpose for the end of this age, allowing both to establish governments under His sovereignty according to the wisdom of men at the time only to prove an utter failure in their end. Allowing men to attempt all governmental systems of his own wisdom for the rule of men in both kingdoms, and all have proven to be lacking in their wisdom and practice, He then will come to show how He had intended it all along. He will rule in a Kingdom where no CNN or cable news analyst can malign or deny His authenticity and sovereignty. Those systems in both worlds are now proving to be deficient in every respect, and I believe, America having been the last of man's greatest attempts. Man's last and greatest experiment has now been tried and the results are in. She has turned her back to God, exerted her own will and now declines in strength and influence for the good of men around the world. Be prepared. Her judgment comes, if for no other reason than the hundreds of thousands of babies sacrificed on the altar of self-will every year. If not, God will have to apologize to every nation who preceded her who rose in arrogant pride without His wisdom and justice at their side. And we know He won't do that. I know when I say this there will be some, maybe many who will scoff and say I am a doom sayer. This I have never been. But I am compelled now to say it. Man's day is soon to be over and God done with his ways. I absolutely do not offer any predictions as to time and date. That is foolishness! Only He knows that. But He clearly teaches we are to know the seasons. I speak only in general to this season as I see it. You are free to disagree and hold or come to your own opinions, and I respect that without my attachment to you of any labels.

Here, I could go into statistics, trends and the like addressing the decline in almost every facet of our civilization, but space is limited. They are there, readily available for those who wish to explore. Begin with America in its political, secular and church culture. A launch-pad for your beginning will be found in an abridged list of links in conclusion. But for now, let us begin with some very serious implications of our current state of affairs for our time. I will speak forthright as my heart has convicted me.

Colossus Seeking now to seize power and control as the old collapses in both worlds, men of ungodly character (though they appear otherwise) are synthesizing from the carcasses of each, merging them into a Frankenstein of an ungodly creation of universal proportions. Sensing a parousia much on the order of 2,000 years ago, Satan is busy at work in principalities and powers in high places of both kingdoms. They are rising together, both secularly and religiously, until they will merge in alliance once again as in olden times. The order and magnitude of these two creations as they currently have become and will continue to grow unchecked will be shocking to the unprepared. To those who see them now, the initial shock waves of their rumblings are both felt and seen as these colossals are rising from the ashes of systems and establishments many think still live. They are co-opting long-standing institutions of heretofore renowned respect. When they have gained in sufficient strength and numbers with the masses having been deceived, they will lift themselves above the peoples of the earth and their shadows will bring great darkness and devastation.

This is a call to awaken! It is time for all Christians, the true bride of Christ within every branch of Christianity created by men down through the ages, to open their eyes, listen with the ears of the inner man and awaken to what is coming and likely in rapid succession. It is time for the true wise virgins to trim their lamps in anticipation of the coming bridegroom! It is time for men and women of conviction to step forward and out of the shadows of the self-created, self-centered and self-promoted! The days we once lived within we thought were normal and our future secure are no longer. The way of doing things as we once did have passed. The luxury of time we once thought we had has expired. America as we knew it, the church as we once went within it, is over and receding into ancient history. Our choices are diminishing. Soon all will be forced to take a stand when our options have been eliminated. We see it in every field that touches our daily lives, including the church. We look at the decline in statistics in every ethical, moral, spiritual and secular arena of man and we see mammon and the ungodly are rising as giants that will soon crush the spiritual fiber in every facet of human life, in all but His elect. It will be as in the time of Noah within the culture and of Christ when the law yoked only the righteous and the lawless and unrighteous ran rampant (Mt.24:37; Lk.17:26).

Compare our times. In Jesus' time, polytheism (except for the religious Jew) was the order of the day. Immorality abounded, even among the many "gods." The spiritual aspect of Jewish religion (except among a few, usually the poorer class) was all but extinct. The legalism of the Pharisees and Scribes ruled. Ceremonialism was the yoke that bound the necks of all Jews, especially as one drew nearer to its center in Jerusalem. From A.D. 6, taxation had been levied by the heavy hand of Rome, and in many cases implemented by turncoat publicans. Hope toward a political messiah was at its zenith. Many such self-proclaimed saviors were appearing on the scene with their renegade band of followers, usually to be discounted by their own immoral and heavy-handed actions. Daystars rose and fell. The middle class was non-existent. Most were very poor, except for the few aristocrats who bought, sold and treated humans like cattle. Into this volatile world, Jesus came to establish His Heavenly Kingdom.

Once again, we live in such a comparable time, a time of the end of an old and a beginning of a new! As our leaders in both kingdoms have warned us as they continue to feed the insatiable beasts, it is unsustainable. The sword has been laid in and the cut is in its initial stages of dividing and separating (Lk.2:35; Mt.10:34). Paul writes to Timothy: "...evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (II Tim.3:13). And John writes in his Revelation: He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still" (Rev.22:11). Prepare for the beginning of something great that will end all things old and traditional that have been built by men and evolved to the extent God's patience is all but exhausted. It will be the beginning of a great renewal of His Will and restoration of His original.

The receding tide continues, baptisms plumet, the earth rises, all preceding the coming of a great Tsunami of the pouring out of His Spirit for the final ingathering of His harvest. For now we glean but a few, and fewer each year, but then by floods. It will take a different shape and form than what is currently seen in both the old traditional and the new false emerging magnet of the mega. We must be willing not to let any thing keep us from following Him forward, denying all that is not or no longer of Him: father or mother, sister or brother, husband or wife, Roman or Protestant, even a church that once deserved our loyalty but no longer walks true to its calling and abiding in Him. Just as He destroyed His Temple in the day it became necessary after it would not come as Jerusalem refused when He called it under His wings, this modern "house of worship" where He once came in to abide among His gathering people in worship will not escape either. Its community influence wanes as it diminishes to a form without power. For a time, each served His purpose, especially in the purity of its beginnings, but the institutions of men will crumble down to the last stone and we will see the Church He has been building all along. EXCITING!

Elisha - Chariots of Fire There are others just as in Elisha''s time who have glimpsed what comes (II Kings 6:17). You are there. A spark will soon be ignited somewhere by someone or some ones who are authentic with the heart and message of Christ to whom He will begin to pour out His Spirit akin to that of Pentecost. His Wind will blow from North and South, East and West, running His mysterious circuits around this globe in lightning speed. Based on God's Biblical pattern and His nature when a cup not of His making becomes full, a judge (a people, as with Deborah and Barak) will rise up to defend His chosen and counter the false. He will bring judgment upon the house built by the hands and wisdom of men we currently see rising and franchising out its stamped blueprint. I believe that cup to be full at any moment. When that ignition event will occur is not seen just yet. But the rumblings of its comings grow deafening. This current crop of ungodly men, both young and old who speak with flattering words derived from the language of men, tickling the ears of its eager in-crowd listeners, will be stripped naked of their so-called post-modernity words and ideas and stand before a timeless God who will give them a lesson undeniable that has not changed from the foundation of the world. Better they repent now than filled with remorse when they are lectured by the Original Author of God's unchanging plan for man in His kingdom. It has stood the test for centuries. It will within this one. This new is not a fad but a fire that will burn itself out, as all have separate from the original, when the next religious guru appears on scene and this crop of new become old as they eventually will, should He tarry.

Many of you share that shame burden God has clearly given to you of the sickness in the institution that once was closely aligned with His body, even in the early days of the Roman. But His body will no longer remain within a vessel that has become so diseased it is no longer viable enough to house it. It is dying and all but dead, certainly not the image outside of Him once within. Similar to our own death when our spirit separates from its vessel when it too reaches that stage of non-viability and vitality, His eternal body will do likewise. Again, what will emerge as His holy body separates to emerge in a new visible form for that renewed purity of its first days to receive that end-time outpouring and end-gathering remains to be seen but it will not be in its current form of this false emergent or dead traditional. Both present forms, the old traditional and the new theatrical, have evolved to their current states they have proven themselves unworthy wineskins for the new wine about to be poured out from His treading now occurring. He is treading, crushing grape and stem and will soon drain into a new vessel for His invitation to all men in His final call. As with the last made from water at the marriage in Cana, it will be the best to date for that final outpouring. It will not be the house who staged the most worldly things in appeal to the ungodly nor the mausoleum of memorials to a time past He will draw them. His fire will burn and His house that will rise will be pure. This I now have no doubt!

It's form will be clear and distinct from any before. No one will be able to point to any division, hypocrisy or ways of the world within it. It will contain no leaven of the Pharisee, no stage for a skit or concert, just a pulpit and cross. It will not be in its present state of derision by those who have long written off its influence in a secular society. It will rise strong, overcoming that old derision, beating back the gates of hell that have besieged it for these many centuries since its inception. It won't be political. And one other thing. He won't need the slick advertising of Madison Avenue, the Ph.D's of the great post-modernity preacher/philosophers, JumboTrons, video venues or 3-D holographics to help Him fill the altars. They think they do Him a great service now but He won't need their wisdom and technology then. The crowds won't come for a high and cheer as they previously did every Sunday when their stars took to the stage, but with tears streaming in repentance as the Master calls his final call. As in the early days, He will choose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise and the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty... (I Co.1:27). He will not look to the Leadership Network for advice or assistance, nor will He give you your money back on millions of dollars wasted on degrees, secret conferences, seminars and video/sound systems.

Oh ye founts who rise in great chorus outside her earthly glass doors, stand silent and observe the fount inside that flows from Immanuel's veins, poured out in the tears of God's man who stands in His pulpit giving His final call: "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev.22:17). That is the crowd, the church, I want to be within! Where yonder does she rise? Do I hear yet but one faint call?

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

Flood True Christian, true called man or woman of God untainted of the world and have not dipped your finger into the poisonous ink of the emerging church blueprints, do not despair. The authentic Bride of Christ awakens in her chambers. Her love stirs to His distant call of His coming. She will rush to the door when He knocks (Song of Solomon)! Be still. Be quiet. Listen. Do you not hear the sounds of the wheels of His coming chariots as Elisha showed the young man in his day? And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha" (II Kings 6:17).

For the host who separate from the illusion of His body as it is now emerging and coming three dimensional hologram of Him, as I'm sure they will construct for drama, putting words into His mouth (if you don't believe me, just wait), whose judgment will come, be bold. Go forth with renewed strength as Paul rose in Lystra and Derbe, establishing churches wherever you go, in homes if you must, and as you go, making disciples fit for His Kingdom. For those existing churches who are struggling to survive, pure in spirit, fighting back against the tide of what seeks to consume them, drawing from them the fringes of their fellowship to the magic of the mega, be strong. Contend for the faith. Christ has overcome. He will not forget. Paint your doorposts and lintels with His blood. Preach Him crucified, His blood Atonement, the guilt of the sinner, the perils of hell and the glory of heaven. Be instant in season and out as it is now. Be not ashamed of His gospel. You are not alone. Many have not bowed the knee to Baal! He will gather and transform your fellowship into a light upon a hill when those houses built upon the sands and wisdom of the world collapse and their people know not where to turn. He will call through you His elect from those masses. The wise virgins who have kept themselves spotless from the idols of false worship will come with their lamps trimmed bright. Not one of His chosen will be lost. Fill and warm the waters in preparation! Take them to the rivers, streams and ponds when their numbers become so great. Your trials will triumph! God will be glorified! But the foolish whose lamps lack His genuine oil will perish. They will be swept away. And great will be their destruction. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Come thou Fount - The Heralds
- Author: Ken Livingston

Writings Index

See also Issue #1: Modern Church.
See also Issue #2: Walking With God.
See also Issue #3: Addicted to Experiences.
See also Issue #5: Broken Churches.
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