One silent disease that permeated the walls of the institutional church I attended was the philosophy of pragmatic thinking, and I feel there are many more churches thinking the same way. Pragmatism says that results are the criterion by which we must judge whether or not something is true or useful. I heard many times from the Evangelical leadership that God must be blessing “our” church because we can see visible results. We must be doing it right in God’s eyes if we have a strong growth in attendance, much larger monthly offerings, a bigger building, a new youth wing, a plethora of activities and programs, and a wonderful reputation in the eyes of the world.
Well my opinion… that is all a bunch of bullshit. Pragmatic thinking within the church I believe was the first BS allergy symptom to pop up to make me see “church” in a different light.
I saw many changes within the church the 10 years I attended. The message and many of the methods changed focus. Focus was put into more of a marketing study of the “unsaved”, rather than focusing on Christ Himself within the ones who gathered. As I have heard before, many churches today have a “Jesus Deficit Disorder”, and this disorder was likely brought on by pragmatic thinking.
After my blurred eyes cleared from the allergies, I realized I was going through spiritual starvation. I was just attending “stuff” to gain knowledge, not to put love into action. Everything was set-up for me to fail in trying to put Christ (love) into action. Everyone was too busy getting sucked into the pragmatic thinking of bigger is better. The feeling was that even though I saw a huge increase in numbers of people attending, the crowds we nowhere near committed to Christ and community in Him (why would they be… it is not taught from the pulpit). To put it in Christian jargon, or Christianese … the church was not “bearing fruit” … unless of course you are a fan of pragmatic thinking, then maybe the church was “bearing fruit” – after all there were “results”.
This is where I asked myself a question. Do I find myself attracted to a method because I honestly think the idea looks like a scripturally faithful way to approach church, or did I jump on board because I was hammered fromt he pulpit and classes with the notion that this was the way church “worked”, and I found myself drawn into a prospect of better “results” in a much quicker pace? (After all we do live in an “instant” world.. we want results now, and every other church does this too, right?)
Well, most people know how I answered that question. After much thought and study I found most of the methods that were going on in church to be unbiblical, and the more the leadership focused by using pragmatic thinking, the more the church just grew in numbers to be a big social club without the foundation of Christ. I tried for a couple years to grow within the walls, but kept hitting a dead end, and ever since I left it has been a huge eye-opener in my life.
The people would say and sing His name, but did they actually come together as His actual Body by loving one another together … I don’t think so … to do that would be to drop the pragmatic-driven church philosophy, and why would people want that? All you get are small attendance numbers with committed believers that want to be His Body together.