By and large, are our churches(in USA) too complex? Asking for your subjective evaluation.

No two churches are the same, and variables abound: church size, church culture, heritage, economic zone, age distribution, competition from other churches, rural vs. urban vs. suburban vs. affluent suburban, blue collar vs. white collar vs. mixed collars, race, etc., etc., etc.

But, taking the average (if there is such a thing) Bible-believing church from among the churches with which you are familiar, do we need to add more outreaches and programs, cut them back and allow our people to spend more time focusing on the basics (Bible, prayer, fellowship, witness, etc.), at home or in the community, or keep the current balance?  Of course our perceptions of the what the "current balance" is will be greatly influential in your best guess.

Part of the danger of complexity is that complexity can easily DISPLACE the basics, like Bible exposition, prayer, and Scripture memory/meditation.  We have all seen the phenomenon where the auditorium is full for a musical concert or a highly-emotional revival meeting, but empty for a prayer meeting or Bible study.

Part of the theory of "many hooks" is that we reach more people via programs, and that has -at least often -- proven true.  But are the people we are reaching praying, studying the Word and theology, and living out their faith as a witness to God's grace?  Of course there is not definitive answer.  It depends. So when we say "by and large," we are taking a guess. What is your best GUESS?




I think our churches should generally simplify, shedding some programs & return to basics.
64% (14 votes)
This varies so much, I don't even have a guess.
27% (6 votes)
I think our churches need to increase the # of organized ministries.
0% (0 votes)
9% (2 votes)
Total votes: 22
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Ed Vasicek's picture

 I meant to off the choice: "Keep the current balance or other," but forgot the first part.  Oops.  So please use "other" to register your opinion that the average Bible believing church has approximately the right balance between complexity and simplicity.

"The Midrash Detective"

JBL's picture

Secular life in general is too complex now.  People are working longer, going back for more education.  Children have half a dozen extracurriculars.  Also add in social networking, entertainment, chores.  Activity has replaced interaction and bonding in the home.

And so yes, there is a tendency for church life to slowly imitate the home life.

We need to be careful that we allow God and his church to build Christians, and not rely merely on an abundance of activity programming.  In other words, the statement, "if you're in church, you will grow spiritually" is not axiomatic.

We need to pray for pastors to have godly discernment in these matters and carefully adjust the content and periodicity of activity to allow for maximum growth, not busyness.

John B. Lee

Ed Vasicek's picture

JBL, good comments and points well taken.  I also learned a new word, "periodicity."  I never did much with chemistry or physics!

"The Midrash Detective"

Larry Nelson's picture


Ed wrote: "Part of the theory of "many hooks" is that we reach more people via programs, and that has -at least often -- proven true."


"18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him."  (Matthew 4:18-20 ESV)

"16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him."  (Mark 1:16-18 ESV)

I'm familiar with the theory of "many hooks," but it occurs to me that when Jesus spoke of making the Disciples (and by application of the Great Commission all Christians) "fishers of men," he was speaking in that immediate context to fishermen who primarily used nets, rather than hooks, to catch fish.  (Hooks are also--in a couple of instances--mentioned in the Bible, but nets were what the Disciples primarily were familiar with and used.) 

Hooks can of course be highly useful for catching fish, but nets can be particularly advantageous in that they catch fish more widely and indiscriminately.

So here's my question: what are our "nets" today?  Do we have and/or use any?  What nets could we (or should we) be using that we do not?  

Bert Perry's picture

I think definitely the latter, along the lines of what John Lee notes, and perhaps we would draw the analogy as an outgrowth of impersonal ministry.  It's much easier to get a program going than to reach into hearts.


Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Larry Nelson wrote:

So here's my question: what are our "nets" today?

I don't know that the imagery of "hooks" comes from the Biblical command to be fishers of men. I think it is simply an illustration for a variety of approaches or opportunities to interact with lost people by way of outreach. 

The Biblical text is about what we catch --  "men"--  not how we catch them.  So I see no implications here for methodology.  Fishing is an illustration, not an allegory, about making disciples, IMO. But, if I was wrong about this, it wouldn't be the first time. We can choose to use the term "nets" as our own illustration for mass evangelism, I suppose.

As far as nets or hooks go, I think building relationships with lost people (not viewing them as "prospects," but fellow humans) offers the best opportunity for the average lay  person to share the Gospel.  As far as church events go, I don't have the answer.

"The Midrash Detective"

Bert Perry's picture

I'm not an avid fisherman by any means, but it does strike me that being a fisherman is an apt picture of getting out there to win souls.  You can spend a lot of time out there without any "bites" or tugs at the net.  Reel things in too quickly, and the fish scampers away.   You have to "set" the hook well.  Along the same lines, making a lot of noise in the boat, or even at the dock, will scare them away, too.  You've got to keep your mind  If one area isn't panning out, sometimes you go to another area, change the bait you're using, and the like.  

No problem if someone doesn't think we ought to go this far with the analogy, but it is interesting at least.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.