In a study in 1994 under the title “Barriers to Belief” in Scotland, Rev. John Campbell says, “many have indicated that one of the greatest barriers to belief in God is the Church itself.” If the problem is the system, then even our best solution is part of the problem. That leaves even the most dedicated, visionary, passionate and revived Christians trapped in a system which is sucking their very energy and is simply overpowering. The way forward, therefore, may not be hidden in slight changes and adaptations to some new forms in “Church as we know it”, but in a much more radical rediscovery of the very nature of Church itself. Wolfgang Simson, Houses That Change the World
What’s the problem? This is an important question, because until we know the source of the problem, we aren’t likely to find a solution. And the solution is important. Apart from a solution, the church of Jesus will continue to sleep on, like a mighty giant, while the world goes largely untouched. What stops us from living a response to the good word of who we are in Christ? This question has occupied much of my reflection in the last few years, though sometimes I wasn’t aware of it.
Could it be that people are lazy? Could it be that we really don’t want to live the message anyway?
Many Christian leaders believe this to be the case. They are convinced that spiritual maturity will simply never come to many in the body. They are convinced that there is a block to the spiritual growth in many believers that is unlikely to change. Some leaders fear change because it would threaten the system that supports them. Whether it is fear or false beliefs, they stop from considering other alternatives.
In my experience, some believers really are content with the status quo. They don’t mind sitting idly Sunday after Sunday, doing exactly what they are told to do. Stand. Sit. Listen. Say hello to your neighbor. Make superficial conversation. Mostly…we sit passively.
But I would say that most believers are uncomfortable with the status quo. They think there might be something more to the priesthood of believers than what they experience. They suspect that the neatness of Sunday services may be hiding something. They wonder why the poor aren’t among them. They wonder why the revolving door is so active. They are surprised that their relationships have remained superficial. They wonder why we aren’t making more of an impact on the world around us. And these people are actively asking, “What is wrong with the church system?”