What is the difference between your faith and your personal preference?

What is the difference between the modern church and a community center with a shared mission?

If you’re the average American, the answer is, sadly, nothing.

Go visit a random church — not all churches, but most. You’ll likely hear something like the following:

“Here at Random Location Church (insert just about any denomination here), we love our church because it is doing great things! See how God is working through us to do (insert x program that probably is also being done through a secular organization).”

“Here at Random Action Verb Church, we believe in the power of (insert slogan here that is likely loosely based in Scripture). That means we do cool good works while wearing our t-shirts with our slogan on them. Here, let me hand you a brochure with our slogan and pictures of people handing out food.”

I am not in the least implying that good community service is a great thing the church does. But notice that is the first and probably the only thing you will hear about that church. Not the gospel. Not the problem of our sin. Not the good news of Christ, but how we do good things.

What about your faith? Does it have the same sway in your life as your personal preferences or more? I prefer reading over going out and hanging around with friends. Nothing against my friends – they know and love this about me because most of them are as introverted as I am! But this fact about me does not pervade my conversations. It doesn’t affect my voting ethics. It doesn’t change what I do in my community, other than the fact that I go out a little less often than others.

My faith in Christ does, however. And it should.

Christ proclaimed we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)! No one sets a basket over a lamp. Yet we are doing just that! Why?

We overreacted to what we called legalism and an over-zealousness, watering down the church to nothing more than a community center. Instead of growing from the preaching of the Word, the true function of the church, we shrank. Our faith had no more influence than our personal preferences. That affected our community, our children, and our nation.

When we backed away, secular humanism took its turn. We acquiesced in the name of tolerance. After all, Christianity is our personal preference. Why do we assume it’s the right choice for anyone else? (As if their eternal salvation can be achieved any other way!) We thought we were being more loving, but we were not.

If we want change in this nation, our churches need to change. Good works are nice. Our community involvement is important. But church is not an evangelism tool – its members are. The function of the church is to make, grow, and equip disciples and be the Bride of Christ.

By equipping the members of the church, we affect the community. When churches focus primarily on the faithful preaching of the Word, Christians grow. They evangelize. They do good work in the community. Their faith becomes more to them than a personal preference.

If we do this, you will probably work lawyers like me out of a job. And that would make for a great world.  

Laura Clark is a wife, mother, and community activist. She currently serves as the interim president of Alabama Center for Law and Liberty, a conservative nonprofit law firm that fights for limited government, free markets, and strong families in the courts.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.

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