God gave me this illustration out of the blue- but I will admit that I discovered a passion for cooking reality shows and one show in particular I was quite impressed with called Kitchen Nightmares. In it, world famous chef Gordon Ramsey will travel to failing restaurants who reach out to him for help. In a newer version, he comes in disguise, dressed as a hippie or biker or construction worker or geriatric old grump, or whoever. He orders the food, orders the staff to come out of the kitchen, and then chews them out for their horrible food. They often are in denial and thought the food was good and didn’t understand why the customers suddenly dropped off a cliff. In his new show, he will show camera footage from the staff, revealing the mishandling of food, unsanitary practices, filth, lazy staff on phones, and more. It’s a big wake up call but what is more impressive is how he is able to turn around not only failing restaurant after failing restaurant literally in a 24 hours by giving tough love to the owners to snap them out of denial- but he’s fixing their marriages, issues with family grudges, and more. You would think that the church could perform miracles to that degree.
Can we be honest here? Why is the church untouchable? We owe it to our LORD to give Him More. The response of JESUS to the church today is I STAND OUTSIDE THE DOOR AND KNOCK. That is not a soulwinning promise – that is a warning that JESUS is probably outside your church while you are bragging about the 300 souls that were saved after lunch today.
Gordon Ramsey addresses things with the leadership and gives honest help to them —
When all the church does today is coddle the leaders and give tough love to the members.
This is what I wrote in regards to my thoughts on churches today vs. the restaurant industry. And if you are mad, pray about it. I don’t know why leaders are fine making the whole congregation mad but if you say one thing that hurts the feelings of the leaders you are a rebel. No, you might be obeying what God wants you to say.
Let’s look at a restaurant chain that is dropping like flies. Half the chain has closed and everyday another one is about to close. Now if a chain of restaurants was going under you could do one of two things:
You can either YELL at all the former customers and shame them to go back and make them feel guilty for not eating there any more –
or you can address things with management to figure out why so many people just stopped eating there.
To add to this failing chain- families all across the country who dined there reported symptoms of food poisoning. The restaurant owners instead refuse to listen to them- delete their comments on Yelp, ignore their letters that doctors send them, the owners are shunning their cries, and worse, mocking them during dinners right in the presence of the few remaining faithful customers continue to eat, thus making any future sickened diner refuse to blame the restaurant because of how they see the former customers treated. The ones still dining see some of the same things when they dine, but they are too afraid to say anything, or they are believing the lies of management that those who were poisoned already don’t know what they are saying and are lying because they are hateful and mean.
The failing restaurant is the church. The people that leave either experienced nothing but tough love- or false doctrine – or saw or experienced abuse themselves or saw cover ups of sexual sins- or were led by guilt and not by the Spirit so they felt like failures and that God was against them. Those that stay often look down at both the non attendees and the lost alike – And shun anyone who dares to see a problem.
Until the church is willing to listen to the cries of the hurting – and care about the ONE who wandered and not just the 99- until it sees things need to be fixed and is willing to fix things- the church has NO power to fix anything in this nation. And it should certainly keep it’s opinions about who is in political power to itself when it thinks that President So-and-So is proof God is for you.
And the church needs to not just see the problems of the churches down the road and see the bad doctrine of denomination so and so. Many bible believing churches rightly teach that the Catholic church teaches traditions over the bible and that that church is wrong for having men stand in front of God when God allows a personal relationship with them. Well, guess what? Many Baptist churches do the same thing — exalting traditions and teachings of their bible college of choice or their circle’s “founding father” over the bible as well. And they stand in the way of God, confusing those that are really seeking God. They will mess with your mind if you are hearing from God but it conflicts with a false teaching of a church tradition or one of the men they brag about from the pulpit.
The church today must be willing to listen to the direct complaints of those that attend -and those that left. Sometimes the ones who are most hurt and most disillusioned are the church’s best friends. If you only surround yourself with those who agree with everything you do and are afraid to say otherwise because they are paid a salary by the church, you will never know when you start teaching from left field. Or you are preaching something wrong. Or you are going down a bad path. Or you have some struggles or sins you need to take to the light.
It doesn’t give the impression it cares about anything but making the church look good. If people are left for dead along the side of the road, so be it. It shuns them and makes them feel like they are the crazy ones. Until the members finally had enough and leave and then find other survivors both from the same church and others from the same circles and others just from the church in general and hear the same story. The same head shaking abuses. The same rejection. The same shunning. The same mocking of others that left.
And you wonder why JESUS is outside knocking to be let in. If any man hear.
The church of America especially needs to take a good look in the mirror and start addressing major problems with “management”- instead of just making those that felt like they got “poisoned” feel bad that they left with a bad taste in their mouth.
Judgment must begin in the house of God. That is your church, your denomination, your circles.
Not everyone else’s.