How can we cheapen the church? Part I

Published 10:28 am Wednesday, May 24, 2017

In the previous two articles, we discussed how we can cherish the church. But how can we cheapen the church? How do we make what God calls sacred, common? 

First, liberalism may cheapen the church. This response says, “but times have changed.” Yet, God’s Word has not changed and it is firmly fixed (Psalm 119:89). God’s character is perfect. He needs no improvement and has no decline; He doesn’t change. How he communicates his character may change, but His character does not. Liberalism believes the Bible to be a malleable, evolving document. But we do not have a malleable, evolving God. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). What God created in the perfect Garden of Eden and called good, such as a male and female distinctions, we do not have the authority to call anathema today.

Second, individualism may cheapen the church. This response says, “I can worship God alone.” Yet we are not to neglect worshiping and fellowshipping in Christian community (Hebrews 10:25).  One cheapens the church when he is capable of meeting with God’s people, but yet chooses to sit at home and watch Jonathan Falwell on television. 

Third, pragmatism may cheapen the church. This response says, “it’s working, so it must be right. It’s not working, so it must be wrong.” But Jesus was not “working” then when his own people rejected him (John 1:11). The pragmatist would have to believe Jesus was therefore unsuccessful. Pragmatism has infiltrated most of our churches. Someone will say, “but if we confront people in their sin, they are going to stop coming to church. We can’t do that.” But how do you know that? You don’t know how someone will respond to biblical confrontation. But also, we don’t have the privilege of disobeying the Bible. The Bible calls us to confront one another in sin (Galatians 6:1). The pragmatist worries about the results at the cost of disobeying the Bible. The Christian must be faithful to the Bible and leave the results up to our sovereign God.

Fourth, authoritarianism may cheapen the church. This response says, “my way or the highway!”  Yet pastors are called to set the example of humility, not being domineering over those in their flock (1 Peter 5:2-3). This attitude in the membership is devilish as well. “I have lots of money, and if you do this, then I am leaving the church.” That is manipulative. The final authority of a church is Jesus Christ.  He is the only one that gets to say, “my way.”

Fifth, traditionalism may cheapen the church. This response says, “but we’ve always done it this way.” However, some tradition goes against the Bible (Matthew 15:6b). We should value the Bible even over our constitution and bylaws. Our first response when change arrives at a church should not be, “but we’ve always done it this way” but rather, “Is this change more faithful to Jesus?”

Sixth, egotism may cheapen the church. This response says, “you’re sitting in my seat.” Nothing wrong with having the habitual seat, but it’s God’s pew, not yours. We must, like Jesus, count others more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Let’s reapply the famous words of John Kennedy — let’s ask not what your church can do for you but what you can do for your church. Members are called to interdependently serve one another and so display the love of Jesus.

In the next article we will cover five more ways we can cheapen the church. 

Matthew Homan is the pastor of Eureka Baptist Church. His email address is