Symptoms Of An Ingrown Church
Every church and grouping of churches has strong points…and weak points. When a church ceases to grow in “grace and knowledge” it becomes ingrown. At this stage, congregations are subjected to a steady diet of slogans, mantras, rants, and a rehashing of pet doctrines/standards. Anything different is viewed with either suspicion or contempt. The wagons are circled with the vain hope the “good ole days” will soon return. But ingrown churches do not win converts.
When all freshness is removed, it tends toward an unhealthy isolation which produces spiritual inbreeding. When humans reproduce with close kin the result is what some have coined “freaks of nature.” A narrowed gene pool does not produce healthy offspring. Apart from a BALANCED spiritual diet you end up with “freaks of grace.” The process is so subtle and gradual that those caught in the downgrade are often unaware.
Several groups were meeting at a conference center. One of the groups apparently taught that it was sinful for women to cut their hair. These women all donned identical apparel and their unshorn hair reached the ankles. I am sure this seemed “normal” to those in the group. Now people can do whatever they choose, but to those on the outside it sure looked strange. Spiritual incest often leads to extremes. God’s people are “peculiar”, but when they look like the latest entry in Ripley’s Believe It or Not some moderation may be needed.
A friend related how he heard the president of a Christian Institution of Higher-learning remark in Chapel, “I am not opposed to black people—I think everyone should own a couple.” This tripe was overlooked because the school is located “in the south.” A biblical corrective was never voiced from the “good-ole boy network.” This ‘form of ungodliness’ was passed on to the students from the top down. Geographic location is not an excuse for racism.
A woman went full-bore on a health-food kick. She immersed herself with the back-to-nature gurus. She read that ingesting poison oak would make a person immune from effects of the poison plant. She ate it and just about died from an infected GI tract! Again, a broader perspective would not have hurt.
Whatever culture, secular or religious, a person grows up in appears “normal” because that is all they have known. I grew up in south central Virginia where lots of people grew tobacco for a living. Even the preachers who took the “strongest stands” were strangely silent on this highly addictive and harmful substance. One broke the silence and commented that a Christian should not smoke, but should tithe the proceeds from his crop to his local church. Talk about adapting to the culture!
I am well aware of the massive problem of churches syncing with the spirit of the age and abandoning truth. But many who are adamantly opposed to adjusting to the culture to win people are blind to how immersed they are in their own culture. They are all about their culture—their preferences and prejudices.
God has given a variety of spiritual (motivational) gifts to the church to save it from spiritual inbreeding. Strumming the same string does not produce mature believers. We have an inexhaustible well of Truth that produces Trophies of grace, not freaks.