Greatest Need In The Church Today

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What is the most urgent need in the church of the Western world today?

Improved evangelism programs?

More missional awareness?

Revived worship?

Growing social ministries (feeding homeless, etc…)?

Stronger age-group ministries (children, youth, etc…)?

No doubt, all of these are important and many would say they are urgent needs. But according to D. A. Carson, the church in the West has a greater need.  What is it? Carson writes:

We need to know God! We think rather little of what he is like, what he expects of us, what he seeks in us. We are not captured by his holiness and his love; his thoughts and words capture too little of our imagination, too little of our discourse, too few of our priorities.

David Wells, research professor at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, appears to agree with Carson’s assessment. He writes that God is now weightless.

It is one of the defining marks our Our Time that God is now weightless. I do not mean by this that he is ethereal but rather that he has become unimportant. He rests upon the world so inconsequentially as not to be noticeable. He has lost his saliency for human life. Those who assure the pollsters of their belief in Gods existence may nonetheless consider him less interesting than television, his commands less authoritative than their appetites for affluence and influence, his judgments no more awe-inspiring than the evening news, and his truth less compelling than the advertisers’ sweet fog of flattery and lies. It is a condition we have assigned him after having nudged him out to the periphery of our secularized lives.

Wells writes further that because God rests lightly upon us, we will eventually find him uninteresting. “A  God with whom we are on such easy terms and whose reality is little different from our own–a God who is merely there to satisfy our needs–has no real authority to compel and will soon begin to bore us.”

If Wells and Carson are correct, then we must seek to become churches who long to know God. Our desire must be as that of the Apostle Paul when he wrote: I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death (Phil 3:10).

For Paul, “to know Christ was the overarching and unfolding ambition of [his] life–a longing for an ever-deepening, ever-widening, personal knowledge of the Son.” It was his “passion to know [Christ] that energized [his] dogged devotion and his epic quest to take the gospel to the ends of the earth” (see Kent Hughes commentary on Philippians).

Could it be therefore, that the more we as the people of God know Christ the more all other needs in today’s church are met? Could it be that the compulsion to go deeper into the world with missions and evangelism springs from our intimacy with Christ?

Perhaps the prayer we need to pray for ourselves and for the church today needs to be based on Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus:

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe (Eph 1:17-19).

 

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