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Why the American Church is in Crisis

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The American church is in crisis. After numerous scandals, distrust of the church is at an all-time high. Young people raised in the church are leaving at an alarming rate. And, in a society where loneliness and spiritual hunger are rampant, people are turning elsewhere for help.

In this edition of The Roys Report, host Julie Roys welcomes Skye Jethani for a wide-ranging discussion on the crisis in the American church.

Skye, a former editor at Christianity Today and former pastor, has for years co-hosted The Holy Post, a popular podcast. Recently, Skye wrote the provocatively titled book, What If Jesus Was Serious About the Church? In it, he looks at what the Bible really says about the church, then compares that with some of the prevailing beliefs and values popular in the church today.

For example, the church is commonly referred to in Scripture as a family—but in modern America, it’s become a corporation. In its pursuit of expansion, influence, and power, the church has sadly lost the essential Christian virtues of faith and love.

As Skye writes, rather than feeling like valued members of God’s family, today, many church members feel like replaceable cogs in a ministry machine. Is it any wonder that the church is suffering, and is it any wonder that people are leaving?

For people who’ve had negative experiences in church and have lived through congregational crisis firsthand, this lively conversation brings clarity and hope.

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Guests

Skye Jethani

An award-winning author, speaker, and co-host of the Holy Post Podcast, Skye Jethani has written more than a dozen books and served as an editor and executive at Christianity Today for more than a decade. Raised in a religiously and ethnically diverse family, his curiosity about faith led him to study comparative religion before entering seminary and pastoral ministry. With a unique ability to connect Christian thought and contemporary culture, his voice has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.

Show Transcript

[00:00:00] Julie Roys: There’s no doubt the American church is in crisis. After numerous scandals, the distrust of the church is at an all-time high. Young people raised in the church are leaving at an alarming rate and we have a society where loneliness and spiritual hunger is rampant, but people are turning elsewhere for help.

[00:00:21] Julie Roys: Welcome to The Roy’s Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roy-. And today I’m going to be discussing the crisis in the American church with Skye Jethani. Skye is a former editor at Christianity Today and a former pastor. He’s also co-host of the podcast, The Holy Post.

[00:00:40] Julie Roys: And he’s a speaker and author of numerous books, including the provocatively titled, What If Jesus Was Serious About the Church? In the book, Skye looks at what the Bible really says about the church, then he compares that with some of the prevailing beliefs and values popular in the church today. For example, the church is commonly referred to in scripture as a family, but in modern America, it’s become a corporation.

[00:01:05] Julie Roys: And in its pursuit of expansion, influence, and power, the church has sadly lost the essential Christian virtue of love. As Skye writes, now, rather than feeling like valued members of God’s family, many church members feel like replaceable cogs in a ministry machine. Is it any wonder that the church is suffering, and is it any wonder that people are leaving?

[00:01:28] Julie Roys: I’m so excited to speak with Skye about the church, not just because he’s a great thinker and teacher, but because he’s my brother. Skye attends the same house church that my family attends, and I’ve seen his commitment to the church on a day to day, week by week basis, and it’s because of people like Skye that I haven’t given up on the church, even though I’ve had a ton of negative experiences. I still believe in the church. I still see her beauty. And so I’m so excited to share this podcast with you.

[00:01:49] Julie Roys: But first I’d like to thank the sponsors of this podcast, Talbot Seminary and Marquardt of Barrington. Are you passionate about impacting the world so it reflects biblical ideals of justice? The Talbot School of Theology Doctor of Ministry program is launching a new track exploring the theological, social, and practical dimensions of biblical justice today.

[00:02:16] Julie Roys: The program equips students with the knowledge, skills, and spiritual foundation needed to address social issues with wisdom and compassion. Justice has become a key issue in our culture, but more importantly, it’s an issue that’s close to God’s heart. While it’s clear the Bible calls God’s people to pursue justice, we must be guided by His Word within that pursuit. Talbot has created this track to do just that. As part of this program, you’ll examine issues such as trafficking, race, immigration, and poverty. And I’ll be teaching a session as well, focusing on the right use of power in our churches so we can protect the vulnerable rather than harm them. So join me and a community of like- minded scholars committed to social change and ethical leadership. Apply now at TALBOT.EDU/DMIN.

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[00:03:26] Julie Roys: Well, again, joining me is Skye Jethani, a former pastor who now co-hosts the popular podcast, The Holy Post. He also speaks and writes books, including one that we’re offering to listeners this month called What If Jesus Was Serious About the Church? So Skye, welcome, and it’s just such a pleasure to have you.

[00:03:50] Skye Jethani: Thanks, Julie. I’m happy to be here.

[00:03:51] Julie Roys: And you may be surprised to know this, but I’ve actually mentioned you numerous times on this podcast. Do  about this?

[00:03:58] Skye Jethani: I do not, because I have to confess, I’ve not listened.

[00:04:01] Julie Roys: You haven’t listened to our podcast? Well, that’s okay, but I’ve listened to the Holy Post. I’ve actually been on the Holy Post, which has been really fun. I’ve mentioned you because I use this term that you coined called the evangelical industrial complex. And so whenever I do that, I try to give you credit. I say, , this isn’t my term. This is Skye’s term.

[00:04:24] Skye Jethani: I don’t need credit, but you’re appreciated. It isn’t like I get a kickback or anything from every time it’s spoken, but. Yeah, I think it was 2012 I wrote an article that I first used that phrase, and it just took off. A lot of people have used it since then.

[00:04:37] Julie Roys: Well, it’s a great term, but for those who are listening who haven’t heard it before, what is the evangelical industrial complex?

[00:04:45] Skye Jethani: Right. So it’s a riff off of President Eisenhower in his farewell address to the country. It’s on YouTube. I recommend people go watch it. It’s very interesting, but he gave a televised address to the country where he warned about the military industrial complex. Of course, Eisenhower, having been a general and the commander of the forces in Europe during world war two had a lot of credibility when it came to military stuff.

[00:05:08] Skye Jethani: And his concern was that there was this permanent arms industry that had been developed after world war two and the military industrial complex, he said, needed a perpetual conflict and warfare to continue its business model. And so I kind of adopted that phrase, but talking about the evangelical industrial complex, which is this financial money-making industry that constantly needs celebrity leaders, celebrity pastors in particular, and big events to perpetuate its business model.

[00:05:39] Skye Jethani: And so it tends to elevate leaders who may be quite talented but lack the character or the maturity to handle large audiences or significant influence. But the evangelical industrial complex will prop them up, publish their books, get them on the big stage, build a big platform for them in order to make lots of money off of this person’s talent and reputation.

[00:06:06] Skye Jethani: And then we’re shocked when they end up cracking under the pressure or falling into some controversy or their church implodes. And especially when I was working at Christianity Today, And I got around the country and I was seeing kind of behind the curtain in a lot of these places. I was noticing that tendency over and over and over again, where it wasn’t the Godly mature tested people who were given platforms.

[00:06:27] Skye Jethani: It was young, attractive, talented people who were given platforms. And so looking at this in different angles, like I just said, this is about making money. This isn’t about really building up the church. And so that’s the evangelical industrial complex.

[00:06:42] Julie Roys: And there’s so much that you just said; just in those few paragraphs about the church and some of our assumptions about the church, the fact that we can have an industrial complex, the fact that we have so many financial interests, and we’re going to dive into a lot of that today.

[00:07:01] Julie Roys: And I love your book because you take all of these things that are kind of, we’ve just adopted because we swim in this soup, right? And we don’t even know kind of these false ideas about church that we’ve imbibed. But they’re there. And when you begin to contrast them with scripture, you’re like, Oh my word.

[00:07:19] Julie Roys: But as I mentioned in the open, you and I, not only know each other professionally, but we go to the same church and we go to a house church, which is a very unconventional form of church. And I know for me and a lot of others within our house church, we’ve come because there was some sort of, I would say many of us are church refugees.

[00:07:44] Julie Roys: Something happened at the church that we were at. And I know I’ve talked about this before on this podcast that for us, it was losing trust in our leaders because of a sexual abuse coverup at the church. And so that was very concerning. Your story, I’m guessing, is a bit different, and I realized as we jumped into this, I mean, I know your former church, and I know some stuff that happened there, but I really don’t know your story of why you came to this house church, which is really, in some ways, unconventional form of church, but if you read the New Testament, it sounds awful lot like what they were doing back then. So, what’s your story? How’d you get there?

[00:08:24] Skye Jethani: Quite by accident really. I was at the same church for 20 years and for, I don’t know, six, it’s hard to, to find, but I was on staff at the church for quite a few years. And then when I was at CT, I actually split my time between staff at the church and Christianity Today.

[00:08:41] Skye Jethani: So these convoluted timeframes, but overall 20 years. And probably, uh, gosh, trying to get dates straight in my head. A few years before we landed at the house church, my wife and I were struggling, honestly, at the church. And I saw, I think partly because of my own ministry background and from my years at CT, where I had been around the country and seen behind the curtain at all kinds of different issues, I had growing concerns about what I saw happening at my own church.

[00:09:12] Skye Jethani: And I took some of those concerns to some of the leaders. They did not share my perspective. They thought I was making a mountain out of a molehill. So in those years, my wife and I kind of decided, well, we’re going to take a step back from like deeper involvement because I was, I just saw yellow flags and yet this was our community. This was the people we loved, people we’d known, our kids were all born and raised in this church. So we were committed to the community, but I just decided as previously having been a significant leader there, I was going to take a step back. And those are hard couple of years because I was constantly told, well, should we be somewhere else?

[00:09:52] Skye Jethani: I really wanted to be at a church where I felt like I could contribute my full strength and enthusiasm to the work of that community, and it just wasn’t going to happen at our church in that season. Then 2020 happens and the pandemic hits, and it’s like, Oh! God caused the global pandemic. So we don’t have to go to church and feel awkward anymore in this situation.

[00:10:30] Skye Jethani: So like everyone else, our church closed. And so everyone moved online or figured out other alternatives. And a few months into the pandemic, Brady Wright reached out to me, who’s also part of our house church and a mutual friend. And he and I and our families have been friends for a long time. And he said that he knew a bunch of families that were all struggling with just feeling isolated. And it was still warm out. And he asked if we’d be open to gathering in someone’s backyard under a tree, social distance for like a fellowship gathering where we would read scripture, pray for one another, and just have a very, very rudimentary kind of worship gathering.

[00:10:53] Skye Jethani: So we started doing that in the spring and summer of 2020. And the people came from different churches, but we said we needed fellowship. And a lot of us were connected through Young Life. And then as we got into the winter months, we realized, well, we actually really like doing this with each other and our churches were still closed.

[00:11:12] Skye Jethani: And most of us were maybe engaging somewhere online, but not in a meaningful way. And then by 2021, the church that we had been a part of all those years went through that significant crisis that it kind of finally blew up. And I had concerns that this was coming for years and then it did.

[00:11:37] Skye Jethani: And so when people found out that my wife and I had been a part of this little under a tree gathering thing. And then in homes, after the weather got cold, some of those refugees started showing up at this little house church. And then there were other churches in our area, like yours, where people were struggling, and they ended up coming. And before you know it, Brady and I are looking at each other going, this was just supposed to be a COVID fellowship, temporary thing under a tree.

[00:11:59] Skye Jethani: Um, But now we realize there’s a bigger reason for this, and there are people who need this place to feel connected and heal and a different way of approaching the basic functions of a Christian community.

[00:12:21] Skye Jethani: So fast forward, we’re no longer at that church that we were at, obviously, for 20 years, I’m no longer ordained in that denomination. And this house church has just become our community and home. So we didn’t go into it as refugees from a church. We came into it just because of COVID, but it all kind of aligned with a number of years of suspecting things were coming. And then when they did, I think we were just a little ahead of the curve. I saw what could happen and it did. So maybe God was just sparing us from a more acute pain had we stayed more engaged.

[00:12:50] Julie Roys: And we were church refugees, and I kind of knew this, but when we lost what was our church home, we spent about two years visiting tons of churches in the area and it just grieved me because I saw the same sort of system at every church that I just didn’t believe in anymore.

[00:13:13] Julie Roys: I still believed in the church, I still believed in God, but I didn’t believe in the system anymore. We’re going to dive into that and actually in your introduction, I like how you talk about the church has changed. Our idea of what the church is, it’s just dramatically changed in 50 years.

[00:13:33] Julie Roys: And I would a hundred percent affirm that. The church that I’m seeing everywhere right now, that’s called the evangelical church is not the church I grew up in at all, not even close. So talk about that change and what sort of prompted that change.

[00:13:51] Skye Jethani: Gosh, I guess it depends on where you want to start the timeline. It’s probably older than 50 years, but I think one of the significant changes that happened at some point in the mid-20th century was sort of the professionalization of pastoral ministry.

[00:14:08] Skye Jethani: And I don’t mean professionalization as in professional training. I think that’s very valuable. But here’s what I mean. Throughout most of Christian history, a pastor or minister would spend most of their time during the week out in the community. They met people in their homes, in their farms, in their factories, in the hospitals and the prisons, wherever they were out in the community, engaging people.

[00:14:29] Skye Jethani: And then those people would congregate on Sunday. And the minister would lead them in sacraments and in teaching of scripture and all that. But he or she knew their sheep because they were out in the community. And at some point we flipped a switch and we said, if you desire to be ministered to, you now need to come to where the minister works.

[00:14:51] Skye Jethani: You need to come into the church office, the church building, and we, the ministers will create a plethora of programs for you and your family to minister to you. And that was done, I think, with very good intentions and there’s an efficiency in that. But I think what it unintentionally did is it caused those of us who are ministers and our pastors to lose touch with the reality of our sheep.

[00:15:15] Skye Jethani: We lost touch with what do people’s lives actually look like Monday through Saturday? Because the only time we ever saw people, it was on our turf, on our terms, in our programs, and in our building. And once you made that switch from pastoral ministry out in the pastures, to pastoral ministry in the professional setting of the pastor in their building, well then it’s just a matter of how do I scale this factory? How do I make more programs? How do we make bigger worship services? How do I get more people into this system?

[00:16:03] Skye Jethani: And then you get the explosion of mega churches and all of that. That was a big wake up call for me, even, after spending a number of years on staff at my church and then beginning to work outside, I realized, oh, I had no idea what the lives of the people in my church were actually like, because I only saw them in my context. I never saw them in their context. So I think that was a big change. And then you just get this massive growth of the institution because you add into this concoction the sacred secular divide. And a lot of people in ministry think that the only work that really matters ultimately is ministry.

[00:16:23] Skye Jethani: So if something’s going to matter, it has to happen under the church umbrella, which is how you get like exercise facilities in a church. It’s how you get auto mechanics in a church. It’s how you get all these because it has to be under the church to count and you get these monstrosities ministries and in some communities that’s necessary.

[00:16:43] Skye Jethani: I don’t want to completely diminish that, but a lot of places it isn’t. And then you need more and more professional people to manage and run these huge things. And that becomes the system that you’re talking about. You’re like, wow, this becomes really self-serving rather than ministering out into the community.

[00:16:59] Skye Jethani: I think that’s one reason is just the simple professionalization of what happened. There’s a lot of other pieces of this we can unpack, but I think that one doesn’t get enough attention.

[00:17:07] Julie Roys:  Yeah. And the church has become a corporation. It’s not  the family that a lot of us knew the church has. And I do think there were good intentions with things. Like I remember the first time we went to Willow Creek, which is the big mega church in the Chicago area, much less big now that everything’s happened with Bill Hybels But I remember going and the thing that struck me, because when I grew up in this little church, it was a great family, really great family, but nobody became a Christian there. Right? Like nobody came to the church and became a Christian. And I saw Willow Creek putting on these amazing shows on Sunday morning, very attractional model. And I remember inviting my boss. I was doing this little sales job in between college and graduate school. And I invited my boss, and my boss became a believer.

[00:17:59] Julie Roys:  And then we started doing Bible studies and we used to fill up two rows of people on midweek. Like we’d have a sales meeting and then we go to Willow. And literally there were dozens of people became believers through that. So I mean that at first I was just like, this is amazing. It’s like the para-church church. I saw all of these para church type outreach ministries, that model coming into the church. But then some really unintended consequences we really weren’t thinking about it necessarily biblically, we were thinking about it pragmatically; how do we reach people?

[00:18:43] Julie Roys: And that’s kind of how we got there, but really, what is the church, right? I mean, that’s what your book is getting to. What is the church? And I think you rightly say a lot of people think of it as an event, as a building, as an organization. So biblically, let’s go back down to our roots, right? And what is the church?

[00:19:02] Skye Jethani: The simplest answer is it’s a community of women and men and children who have been redeemed by Jesus and are living in communion with him and one another. That’s it. And that obviously can take different forms and structures and different cultures and times, but that’s it. I think your observation that megachurch function very much like a parachurch outreach kind of ministry, I think it’s accurate. And I’ve been a part of a number, especially as a college student, a number of parachurch organizations like Campus Crusade CRU now, InterVarsity, Navigators, and at least in my time connected to some of those things. They’re very careful not to call themselves a church because they understand that we may be a ministry, we may do outreach and Bible studies and other things, but we are not a church.

[00:20:05] Skye Jethani: But the funny part is when you go to some churches that more or less function like parachurch ministries. they embrace the name church. And I wrote a piece many years ago for Leadership Journal, where I was arguing that these very large churches shouldn’t really be called churches. And I started calling them VLMs, which is a new one. It’s a very large ministry. And I tried to come up with a name that wasn’t disparaging because they are doing ministry. They are reaching people like your colleagues, like they’re doing good work, but there’s something chafed on me about calling it a church when the historic definition and functions of a church community were really not present. But they were preaching the gospel. They were teaching scripture. They were engaging non-believers, all that great. But the functioning of a church in many of these places was not actually happening.

[00:20:44] Skye Jethani: Para church organizations recognize that about themselves and stayed away from the label of church, but these mega churches and other ministries embrace the church name. All the while they weren’t really functioning as churches.

[00:20:56] Julie Roys: And I think the pastor wasn’t functioning as a pastor. I mean, we have pastors who are basically preachers, but they’re not pastors. They’re not shepherds.

[00:21:04] Skye Jethani: Right. Exactly. Yeah.

[00:21:06] Julie Roys: You wrote one of the chapters is on, whose church is it really? And it reminded me of an experience I had last fall. So I was doing some investigating on a church where Albert Tate was the pastor. It’s in Monrovia, California, and he had admitted that he had an inappropriate texting relationship, but then his staff started complaining about bullying, about spiritual abuse.

[00:21:33] Julie Roys: They found out that they really didn’t have any say. They didn’t own the church the way the bylaws were written. Albert, and a few of his key guys that he put on his board owned the church. I remember at this very contentious town hall meeting that I went to where they were basically the people were demanding their church back, and they were talking about Albert going on this sabbatical, and he came back really quickly. I forget how it’s several weeks. And then he said, and I’m just going to quote, he’s like, I’m not sure if a month would have made any difference, like saying if I had stayed on my break for a month longer. And unfortunately, I still feel like this is my church. And the place erupted. I mean, people were saying it’s our church, it’s our church.

[00:22:25] Julie Roys: And then somebody was saying, no, it’s God’s church. But the way that we think about our church, I mean, there, it was really coming to a head, and it really was a matter of who owns this church? And we’ve got legal ownership, and then we’ve got spiritual ownership. So speak to that, because I think we have really messed this one up.

[00:22:46] Skye Jethani: Yeah, and there’s a lot of pieces that intersect with this, because there’s different polities, there’s different church structures and governance structures, depending on your denomination and theology and all of that, it gets complicated. There’s some denominations in which they might have congregational polity, but the denomination owns the building, and it goes on and on like in the denomination I was a part of they were congregational in their polity, but the licensing and ordination of clergy was handled by the denomination. So there was some oversight. And one of the things, I used to have stronger opinions, I guess, about these matters, but as I’ve gotten around and had my own experience and just perhaps mellowed a bit with age, I’ve realized I have not yet found a church structure that cannot be abused.

[00:23:33] Skye Jethani: They all have weaknesses, and they all have strengths. Some I think are better than others, but none’s immune. So if someone’s looking for a silver bullet of how do we structure these things to avoid abuse? Good luck. The best you can do is try to mitigate against it in your culture and environment by choosing certain models versus others, but they can all be abused.

[00:23:56] Skye Jethani: But what you’re getting at in the story that you mentioned, and I’ve seen this up close as well, especially within evangelicalism, so much of our tradition is rooted in charismatic personalities and lowercase C charismatic personalities so that we tend to associate a church with its visible leader, the person in the pulpit.

[00:24:22] Skye Jethani: I remember Outreach magazine, I think it was Outreach magazine years ago, used to do an issue every year on like the top hundred churches in the country or something like that. And they measure just based on size, based on attendance. And it was like a centerfold, a fold out. big thing and they’d list all these churches in this chart And there was the name of the church and then there was just a headshot of the senior pastor That was the visual representation of that church

[00:25:02] Skye Jethani: So it is a structural problem, but it’s also a people problem We do that we do that because we tend to pick a church based on do I like the preacher? If that’s the criteria you have for picking your church, you’re reinforcing that same idea. And what really grieved me was when I realized, despite the rhetoric, despite the theology, despite all the words about we’re a body and it’s blah, blah, blah. When people in leadership, John Ortberg used to say that everyone has their mission, and then there’s the shadow mission.

[00:25:28] Skye Jethani: There’s what you say your mission is, and then there’s what your mission really is. And what I discovered in some of these places is, you might say your mission is the health of the church, or it’s the growth of the church, or it’s the service of the community, whatever it might be, glorifying God. The shadow mission in an awful lot of these places is to protect the pastor and to maintain the pastor’s status and reputation.

[00:25:50] Skye Jethani: And that for me to speak about the system being broken is when I lost trust and hope. Where it ceased to be about what’s best for the body, and it became what’s best for the figurehead who represents the body, not Jesus, but the pastor. Again, there’s a bazillion stories of how this happens.

[00:26:15] Skye Jethani: I don’t want to point the finger just at the system because we are complicit in creating that system. Because I think for a lot of us, we get a lot of satisfaction after saying that’s my pastor. That’s my leader. Look how great my guy is. Look how many books he’s published, look how popular his radio show is. And I’m a part of that. So there’s something we get from that, which props them up.

[00:26:36] Skye Jethani: And somewhere else I wrote about it as being like the relationship between an animal and a zookeeper. They both benefit. The animal gets fed in a safe place to live. And the zookeeper gets the satisfaction of. , being in charge of all these animals. And if you’re content with that model, we’re going to continue to have this dynamic where the leaders are synonymous with the church. And then the church does everything it can to prop up and protect its leader, and it’s really unhealthy for everybody involved.

[00:26:57] Julie Roys: That’s interesting. And it is true that it’s comfortable for us because when we go to a church like that, everything’s provided for us, and we don’t really have to bring anything to the table. And that’s been one of the challenges with our house church, hasn’t it? We’re like, nobody signed up to facilitate this week. Nobody signed up for worship leading. And it’s like, okay, yeah, we’re going to have to bring a little more to the table if we’re going to keep meeting. Again, biblically speaking, there’s commands about when you meet together, you should bring a psalm, you should bring a word of encouragement, you should bring, I mean, all of these things.

[00:27:34] Julie Roys: We’ve gotten into a very consumeristic way of looking at church and of approaching it. And it’s on us. You’re right. You’re a hundred percent right. It is on us. And I think we don’t think of the church. as God’s church. But if we do think of the church as God’s church, then I think it also changes our expectations of who should be in that church.

[00:27:59] Julie Roys: You mentioned how a lot of churches, when they plant a church, they’ll talk about their target audience, for example, which implies you can either be in their target or not be in their target, right? So, if you’re not in their target, then do you count? I mean, do you matter? A lot of assumptions there. But when we think about church and we think about who’s coming, how should we perceive that?

[00:28:29] Skye Jethani: Yeah, I think that the breakdown here is the way our culture defines hospitality. Again, it’s become an industry; there’s the hospitality industry in the modern world. And so what we usually mean by hospitality, and this trickles down even to our homes, like when we think about do you have a hospitable home? You think, well, if I’m going to have guests, I’m going to find out what do they like? What do they want? I’m going to accommodate to their needs. I’m going to make sure that they’re vegan or whatever it is. And we’re going to customize our home to fit the people who are coming. The hospitality industry has taught us, whether it’s airlines or hotels or resorts or whatever, find out who you’re marketing your resort to, and then give them what they want. Customer is king. And megachurches and the seeker movement came along, and they adopted that same approach. Well, we’re going to go after unchurched Harry and Mary, famously was Willow Creek’s thing. And they had this middle-class, middle-aged people, and they tailored a church around what they wanted.

[00:29:30] Skye Jethani: That’s very different from the ancient world’s understanding of hospitality. Paul commands us to be hospitable to one another, and so does Peter, and it’s a very ancient idea going back to Abraham being hospitable to the strangers who are angels who came to his home.

[00:29:46] Skye Jethani: In the ancient Near East, hospitality was not about catering or changing your home or community to accommodate your guests. It was instead, welcoming guests into the normalcy and flow of your home as it is; it’s been authentically yourself but welcoming those guests into it.

[00:30:15] Skye Jethani: So, I’ll give you one example. When I was in seminary, some classmates of mine did an experiment where they took 2 television monitors to Northwestern University, right? This. secular university in Evanston, the north side of Chicago.

Julie Roys: Where I got my graduate degree.

[00:30:36] Skye Jethani:  Right. One monitor they showed a Catholic mass, and the other monitor they showed a very contemporary mega church worship gathering. And they asked students as they came by, hey, if you were ever to go to church, which one of these would you go to? And this would have been probably 1998-99 in that timeframe. The overwhelming response of the students was the Catholic mass. And then they asked them, why is that? And they said, well, that looks like a rock concert. I can get that anywhere, but that looks sacred. That looks holy.

[00:30:54] Skye Jethani: And what they were getting at was, the mega churches said, we’re going to accommodate to the culture and give people what they want. But increasingly with my generation, and I think the younger ones, it smacks of pandering. It smacks of, well, you’re changing who you really are in order to be who you think I want you to be.

[00:31:13] Skye Jethani: Whereas the Catholic mass, a lot of these students was like, well, they’re being authentic to who they are. That’s Christianity. They’re not trying to. I mean, goodness, the Catholics just started doing the mass in English not that long ago. They were very slow to accommodate, but that was seen as authentic.

[00:31:28] Skye Jethani: So I think that the challenge for us today is not how do you change the church to be what the culture wants you to be? It’s how do you be authentically Christian in your church community? But how do you make it As accessible as possible to the people who might come in?

[00:31:49] Skye Jethani: So in our case, like when we gather, we take communion every Sunday when we gather. I know plenty of seeker churches that would say, you don’t do that because it’s off putting to non-believers who don’t understand it. I would hope that if someone came into our community, and I’ve seen churches that do this really well, who take communion regularly, they explain what this is, what it means, why we do it, how to do it, the significance of it and invite people to participate or not, depending on their theology

[00:32:13] Skye Jethani: . That’s being hospitable. It’s not changing who you are to accommodate people’s expectations. It’s welcoming them into who you are and to the normal flow of your family and household. And I think that’s a better approach and a more faithful approach than polling the community and finding out what they want.

[00:32:29] Julie Roys: Absolutely. And I love that we do communion every week. I think a lot of churches have forsaken this. In fact, you talk about the, what is it, The coffee bar versus the Lord’s table? Like in a lot of these churches, the coffee bar has become more appealing than the Lord’s table to these churches. Again, because I think their mentality is we’re doing church, and this is where I feel like evangelism, which is such an important thing, but it’s almost superseded worship.

[00:33:04] Julie Roys: Like, we forget why we come together. We don’t come together to reach the seeker. Not that God, obviously Jesus cared. He left the 99 to get the one. But we come together to worship God; that’s the primary. And so the table, describe, beyond what you’ve talked about, but theologically, why is the table so, and by the way, our RESTORE conferences, every single one, we always end with communion, which I’ve had people come up to me and say, Oh, you shouldn’t do like anything that might trigger people because they were hurt in the church and communion, that’s something that’s very churchy.

[00:33:46] Julie Roys: And I’m like, we have to redeem these symbols. We can’t throw them out because these symbols are there. God gave them to us because our souls need them. And we need to have this communion with one another and with Christ. I know this is a conviction of yours. It’s very deeply held, but why is the table like a non-negotiable for us as believers when we meet?

[00:34:13] Skye Jethani: Let me give you two reasons, although there are more. One, is I think it is the practiced embodiment of the gospel. It is not just the verbal proclamation of the gospel, which is obviously valuable, but it’s the embodiment of the gospel. And in the sense that it’s not just a memorial to Jesus’ death, which certainly it is that; my broken body, my shed blood, but in sort of an Ephesians 2 kind of way.

[00:34:54] Skye Jethani: There Paul talks about how on the cross God has reconciled us to one another. He’s talking about Jew and Gentiles there. He’s broken down the wall of hostility and he has reconciled us to one another and made us one new person. And then together reconciled us to God through the cross. So It’s not just when I sit alone and take a little juice and a little bread, and I kind of think about the cross and my community with God, it’s when I am sitting side by side or standing side by side with my sisters and brothers, realizing I’m one with them because of the cross, and he has reconciled us to one another, people, maybe who I share something in common with, in an earthly way, but some whom I don’t.

[00:35:31] Skye Jethani: And so when we don’t practice communion regularly, I think we can easily fall into the trap of losing the horizontal dimension of the gospel. And we make it simply vertical. It’s just me and God. And we forget, no, it’s the reconciliation between brothers and sisters happens first, Paul says, and then we’re reconciled to God, the father of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

[00:35:56] Skye Jethani: If you’re going to make an offering at the altar, and there, remember your brother has something against you, leave the offering, go be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift to God. He always puts the horizontal reconciliation ahead of the vertical, and we have so lost sight of that. And we don’t think that’s essential to our gospel, but it is.

[00:36:11] Skye Jethani: So the table is critically important because it is the embodiment of that full gospel, the horizontal and the vertical. And when we don’t practice that, we get really warped. And it just leads to terrible things in the church. Then the other reason, the second reason, and this gets a little bit more into that coffee bar versus communion table thing is, virtually everything in our society is designed to make us narcissistic consumers.

[00:36:41] Skye Jethani: It’s all about me. It’s what I want. And when I go to a coffee bar, I don’t drink coffee. I drink tea, but when I go to a Starbucks or whatever, like there’s infinite options and I pick what I want and I’m the one in charge and I order it and I get it. And a lot of churches have that in their foyer or communion area or common area, whatever might be fine.

[00:36:58] Skye Jethani: I’m not against coffee in church, but the table I’m no longer in charge. It’s Christ’s table. It’s not my table. And even if I’m officiating and I’m a pastor at the table, it’s still not my table. It’s Christ’s table. He welcomes us there. This is his body. This is his blood. This is about his kingdom and his family.

[00:37:18] Skye Jethani: And it’s a reminder that I am not in charge, and I belong to something other than myself. And so those two realities of the gospel, I think are antidotes to what we get bombarded with in our culture of the privatization of our faith. It’s just me and God and the hyper narcissism of it’s what I want that matters, not what God wants.

[00:37:41] Skye Jethani: For me, the practice of communion inoculates me to a degree against all of that cultural garbage and realigns me to the gospel of Christ again. So to not practice it regularly, I think is to lose one of the greatest graces that Christ has given his church. And especially in our context, we need to do that.

[00:38:03] Julie Roys: I love about the table too, especially this is probably why I absolutely love liturgical worship, which is something I loved about our previous church because it was Anglican and I love the liturgy, but I love the table because it reminds us of what’s coming, like the wedding feast that we’re looking forward to.

[00:38:27] Julie Roys: I think way too often especially in evangelicalism, it’s like our goal is to get people saved and then it stops. Like we forget that ?we’re saved to be part of this community that’s being redeemed and has this glorious thing that we’re anticipating. And I think most Christians forget we’re anticipating something.

[00:38:48] Julie Roys: You just get the sense like, Oh, you got saved. You’ve arrived. And then, well,  you should become discipled; that’s important because as you point out, we haven’t really defined what disciple is but that’s important, but we forget. Man, we are just passing through. We’ve got this glorious, glorious feast that we’re awaiting, and it is going to be a family and it’s going to be a family affair where everyone’s gathered.

[00:39:15] Julie Roys: I love that part of it. And I love that it takes us out, like you’re saying, out of our present context and reminds us who we are and where we’re going. So love that part of it. And you touched on this when you said, You were hinting at the transactional nature that we come to church with, and I hear this all the time. I’ve probably said it myself. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this. But we look at church and we say, and if we go and we don’t feel like we were especially inspired or something, we’ll say, I didn’t get anything out of that.

[00:39:54] Skye Jethani: Mm-Hmm. .

[00:39:54] Julie Roys: Talk about why that’s really not the way we should be approaching church.

[00:39:59] Skye Jethani: Oh, gosh, Julie, I wrote my very first book on this whole thing, which no one read. It’s called The Divine Commodity and it’s all about consumerism and the church. With a weird thread of Vincent van Gogh all the way through the book, which is why no one read it.

[00:40:16] Julie Roys: That sounds very interesting though. In a dark sort of way.

[00:40:19] Skye Jethani: We live and move and have our being in a consumer culture. Everything is measured by its value to me. It’s interesting. Like, there’s an economist who argues that America really transitioned into a truly consumer economy in the 1950s. And it’s the 1950s where you begin to see a massive spike in divorce rates.

[00:40:43] Skye Jethani: Now, there’s a lot of factors into that. It’s not just economics, but I think it’s a factor. Because what Consumerism tells us is that the world exists to satisfy my desires. And when something doesn’t satisfy my desire, I’m justified in changing it, whether it’s a product from a shelf or a spouse that I said I was committed to.

[00:41:03] Skye Jethani: So we measure everything that way. Most of us don’t even think twice about it. Of course, that’s the right way to live. Of course, that’s what the world is all about. And so we come into our church communities or even our relationship with Christ and we go, well, what have you done for me lately? And is this beneficial to me? And am I getting something from it? We don’t challenge that ethic in most of our churches. We never point it out, we never go, Hey, this might be the way economics works in our society, but it’s not the way the most important things work. This isn’t the way we should think about our children.

[00:41:34] Skye Jethani: This isn’t the way we should think about our spouses. And this is not the way we should be thinking about God. And Certainly not the way to think about his church, but we do. And in a weird way, the first amendment has reinforced that idea. We have no established church in America and I’m grateful for that, but it also means there’s a free market of religion in the United States and the religious institutions that are out there are all competing for part of the market. They’re competing for customers. And in that setting, the customer’s King, you give them what you want. So it ends up reinforcing this mindset over and over and over again. I can’t just shake my fist at the culture and go big, bad consumerism.

[00:42:12] Skye Jethani: But what I can shake my fist at a little bit are churches and ministers that aren’t speaking about this dynamic and helping people be formed out of it into the values of the kingdom of God. And instead we either stay silent about it or flat out reinforce it and advance it in a weird way. So yeah, things like communion, like commitment, like relationship, like service are antidotes to some of that mindset.

[00:42:38] Skye Jethani: But it’s hard. And I find myself in that posture all the time as well. You can’t escape it. It’s just part of who we are as 21st century modern people. But that’s where it’s on the shoulders of church leaders and institutions to help form us and give us a vision of a different way that very few are doing.

[00:42:58] Julie Roys: Similar to that is I think this idea that when we come to church, we do so, and we’ve heard churches build themselves this way. We come and experience God, and worship has become, and it’s interesting to me because worship was so huge in my development as a Christian. As I remember being in high school and I got discipled by these, Oral Roberts/Jesus People like wacky charismatics who were druggies maybe 10 years prior to meeting me.

[00:43:32] Julie Roys: But they were so on fire for the Lord, and we would get together, and we would pray and worship and literally we’d be there for 3 hours, and it would seem like 10 minutes. It was just an amazing. I didn’t realize up until that point that you could have that kind of intimacy with God and that kind of communion with him.

[00:43:51] Julie Roys: So worship was huge to me in my experience of God. What’s been challenging now. And even I look back, we were in a Vineyard church for a long time, and I used to love to invite people and I would see them come into the worship and they just start crying and they don’t even know why they’re crying, right?

[00:44:08] Julie Roys: They’re just crying because they’re moved. But now I’m seeing so many of these worship experiences that are, they’re amazing emotional experiences and it’s making me check; like I have a check now because I see these kids raised in their hands and they’re praising the Lord.

[00:44:32] Julie Roys: And then the rest of what they’re doing throughout the week has nothing to do with the Lord has nothing to do with worshiping the Lord. I see these ministries that are built on worship, like Hillsong and Bethel. And now we’re seeing just such horrible manipulation and corruption and abuse within so many of these churches.

[00:44:52] Julie Roys: And so the whole experiencing God thing,  it’s hard to even parse out, like, is the music affecting me? I think if you try to parse that out, then you’re kind of killing the experience itself, right? So, you destroy it.

[00:45:16] Julie Roys: But I think this idea that we have to go to church to experience God. has been baked into evangelicalism where it’s at right now. So address that and why we need to really change our focus when it comes to worship.

[00:45:28] Skye Jethani: You and I were very different high school students.

[00:45:31] Julie Roys: We were. You were here, I was here, right?

[00:45:35] Skye Jethani: Yeah. So I was the worst kid in the youth group in high school because I was such a skeptic. I used to get dragged to these big worship events in Chicago for high schoolers in the early 90s. And I just thought these are the most manipulative and emotionally charged. I just didn’t buy it. I never bought it. And that’s just, that was my own baggage and problem. But let me say, I think the problem is not necessarily these gatherings.

[00:46:02] Skye Jethani: I think they can be beautiful in many, and I’ve been a part of some that are just amazingly gorgeous times of communion with God. The problem is not the gatherings. I think the real problem is what we expect to get from them. And here’s the metaphor that I’ve written about elsewhere that I find helpful.

[00:46:23] Skye Jethani: In 2nd Corinthians chapter 3, Paul references Moses on the mountaintop of Sinai when he meets with the Lord. And if you remember the story from Exodus 34, when Moses came down the mountain to meet with the people again, they all freaked out because his face was glowing, right? The radiance of God was shown on his face.

[00:46:44] Skye Jethani: And in Exodus, it says that Moses put a veil over his face. So that people wouldn’t freak out anymore. Well, Paul, when he’s referencing this in 2 Corinthians 3, adds a little bit of rabbinical tradition into the story that’s not actually in Exodus, but Paul was familiar with. And he said, no, the real reason that Moses put a veil over his face is because he didn’t want the people to see that the glory was fading away and that is was only temporary.

[00:47:09] Skye Jethani: And so when you piece these things together, you get a sense of what was really going on here is every time Moses would go up the mountain and meet with the Lord, he would take the veil off and he’d kind of get recharged another zap of God’s radiance.

[00:47:20] Skye Jethani: And he’d come down and everyone would see, Oh, he’s been with the Lord. He’s glowing. And then he put the veil over cause it fades away. And I think that’s a little bit what we’ve gotten caught up into, is an external mountaintop kind of communion with God. Moses’ experience on the mountain was real. It was genuine. It was good. It was full of God’s presence

[00:47:38] Skye Jethani:. The problem that Paul’s pointing out is it always faded. It was temporary. And so you have to go back over and over and over again. And he contrasts that with the new covenant in Christ, which he said is not. about an external glory. It’s about his spirit within us, transforming us from one degree of glory to the next with ever increasing glory. So we can take the veil away.

[00:47:59] Skye Jethani: And this is the core problem. I think in an awful lot of consumeristic American evangelical Christianity is essentially what we have done is rejected the new covenant in Christ in favor of the old covenant in Moses. And the reason is if we really buy the new covenant in Christ, You don’t need a 50-million-dollar mountaintop to encounter God, and you don’t need a dynamic preacher to encounter God, and you don’t need a huge worship band o genuinely encounter God. What do you need? You need to cultivate a deep abiding presence with his spirit, the kind that Jesus talks about in John 15. Abide in me and I will abide in you, just as a branch abides in its vine and bears fruit. That’s New Testament spirituality

[00:48:53] Skye Jethani: But if you want a big ministry, and if you want thousands or even millions of people buying your albums and coming to your church and doing anything, then you need old testament spirituality. You need to convince people that the only place that they’re really going to have an experience of  God is on the mountain that you’ve built and that you hold the toll road to accessing. That’s old testament spirituality and it’s really lucrative .But it’s not what we’re called to in Jesus.

[00:49:13] Skye Jethani: So that’s what worries me is we’re creating kind of worship junkies where they need another hit and the glory fades and they’re like, Oh, my life, I felt really transformed after going to that big event, that big conference, that big whatever. But yeah, a week later, the glory fades and you’re back to the person you always were.

[00:49:29] Skye Jethani: And then you go, I guess I need to go again, or I need a bigger thing or a better church or a better speaker. Whatever. And all the while we’re ignoring what we’re called to, which is who’s teaching me how to really commune with Jesus? Who’s teaching me how to pray? Who’s teaching me how to confess my sins? Who’s teaching me how to really live in step with the spirit day in and day out so that I might truly be transformed from one degree of glory to the next?

[00:49:51] Skye Jethani: Very few of our mega ministry settings are designed to do that kind of work. They’re designed to give us a show and make us feel great. And to be fair, again, sometimes those are genuine encounters with God, just like Moses was, but it always fades. That’s the problem.

[00:50:09] Julie Roys: I’m thinking back to when I was at Vineyard and there was a saying that John Wimber had that I absolutely loved. He would say pretty much everything else in our experience with God is something that he does for us. Worship is the one thing that we do to him, that we give back to him. And I think rightly understood, it comes from that communion with God that you have, that then when you have the chance to verbally express that, it’s very much like in a marriage relationship.

[00:50:44] Julie Roys: When you have that opportunity to physically express that love to your spouse, it’s extraordinarily meaningful because why? you already have that love that you experienced one for another. And so then that Physical expression becomes so meaningful But if it were just the physical expression without the love, I think that’s where a lot of people are at really in the way that they’re relating to God,

[00:51:07] Skye Jethani: Right. Yeah, if we developed a genuine communion with God throughout the week, and then we gather with our sisters and brothers on the weekend and express that, that’s wonderful. I think too many of us again, schooled as consumers don’t have that communion all week long. And then we show up on Sunday going, light me up, make me feel good, give me that charge so that I can go into my week and feel encouraged or blessed or whatever it is I’m looking for. That’s not worship

[00:51:34] Julie Roys: We don’t want to disciple people on how to maintain that in their private life because then they don’t need us. And yeah, so good. Well, there’s so much more we could talk about. Before I let you go talk just briefly about leadership and you’ve touched on it somewhat, about the celebrity pastors. You also used a term that’s become somewhat of a buzzword within the church is something called servant leadership.

[00:52:05] Julie Roys: I have a feeling that’s much more about the upfront and not like the shadow mission shows whether that servant leadership is actually a thing. But talk about that leader and the approach that leader should have. How a leader should serve within a body, and why maybe we should be suspicious of those who come along and say, they’re visionary leaders and they’re going to impart their vision to us, for the church. And I know I just gave you a big one, didn’t I?

[00:52:37] Skye Jethani: It is a big one. And there’s so many landmines in this. I generally don’t like using the language of servant leader because especially again, in American evangelical culture, the assumptions behind it are misunderstood. So let me unpack that a little bit.

[00:52:57] Skye Jethani: Usually, when we think of servant leader, we think of a person with authority or power who nonetheless does humble acts of service, right? So it’s the pastor who’s out there shoveling the snow o ,the church leader, who’s still taking out the garbage and you go, gee, look at,  pastor Steve, isn’t he humble? And he’s a servant leader and he’s doing that thing. Just like Jesus washed the disciples feet. In my view it’s great. I’m glad a pastor does that. I certainly wouldn’t want to disparage it, but I don’t think that’s really what servant leadership means. In John 13, that scene where Jesus washes the disciples feet, what he’s really doing there is not only humiliating himself, he’s humiliating his disciples. They had been arguing about who’s the greatest. And then Jesus strips naked and starts washing their feet, taking this grotesquely humiliating role. And he gets to Peter and Peter’s like, there’s no way you’re washing my feet. And he says, if you don’t let me wash your feet, you can have no place with me.

[00:54:03] Skye Jethani: Which is like, wow, that’s a pretty strong statement. What’s going on there? In that culture the relationship between a rabbi and a disciple was well established, and a disciple’s identity was completely defined by who their rabbi was. So when Peter and John and James and the others, when they left their fishing boats and their toll booths and all the other things they were doing to become a follower of Rabbi Jesus, Peter especially was thinking, this is a pretty good deal, because I’m leaving a meager fishing business to become the disciple of the most powerful guy I’ve ever seen, who’s probably going to take over the world.

[00:54:41] Skye Jethani: And that’s why, am I going to get to sit at your right on your left? Where am I going to get, like, this was a great deal. Cause my rabbi is like bigger than Moses. And then he sees his rabbi do the most humiliating and embarrassing task imaginable. And so what Jesus is saying to Peter is, If you think this is humiliating to me, it’s even more humiliating for you, Peter, because I’m your rabbi, which means you’re even lower than me.

[00:55:05] Skye Jethani: And then at the end of the whole scene, he says, I, your teacher and rabbi have done this. You should do likewise. I think the message he’s really saying there is stop caring what others think about you. And love in a self-sacrificial way, take up your cross, die to yourself and follow me.

[00:55:37] Skye Jethani: So when I then look at what does that mean in 21st century American church world, nobody is going to look at a pastor shoveling snow or taking out garbage and go, Oh my gosh, what a loser. Most church worlds go, Oh, that’s great. He’s doing something noble and kind and helping out and everything. No one’s going to think he’s a humiliated nothing because of that. So what I’m looking for is a pastor who has given up on their own reputation, who’s doesn’t care how many followers they have on Twitter, who’s not worried about, are they going to have a bestselling book?

[00:56:00] Skye Jethani: Isn’t counting how many people showed up every Sunday because that’s a stroke to their ego. It’s where they have truly died to themselves. They know who they are and where they’re going, like Jesus did at the beginning of John 13. They know they belong to God, and they know they’ve been called by him, and they’re set free then to love sacrificially, without caring about their own reputation and ego. So that’s, I think, a better definition of a servant leader, the person whose ego is not driving their ministry. That’s hard to spot without real relational connection and knowing somebody well.

[00:56:44] Skye Jethani:  I’m all for that kind of serpent leader and it’s rare. I’ve known men and women like that. Sometimes they have an ecclesiastical title. Sometimes they don’t. But they are the salt and light in the church today. And I pray that God will bring us more of them because we desperately need them in the American church.

[00:57:02] Julie Roys: I love that. That’s so good, Skye. Thank you. Well, we have to wrap this because I’ve got my grandson’s first soccer game coming up and I’ve got to boot out of here to go see that.

[00:57:15] Skye Jethani: I actually have a soccer game tonight too for my high school daughter. So I’ve got to do that too.

[00:57:19] Julie Roys: But this has been really good and really rich. I so appreciate this book that you’ve written. Like we said, we’re offering that to anybody who gives a gift to The Roy’s Report this month. Just really grateful for you, Skye. And I think people, when they hear this, they’re like, wow, that guy’s in your church. And we have like so many people who are deep thinkers like this in our church. And it’s been an incredible gift. And it’s been an incredible thing to iron sharpening iron, which we’ve had that opportunity. So just feel blessed to have you as my brother and just appreciate this time we spent.

[00:57:57] Skye Jethani: And thankful for all the good work you and your team at The Roy’s Report are doing in helping people navigate a really difficult season in the church and hopefully find healing and deeper communion with God and one another. It’s valuable, valuable work. I’m grateful to have a small little role in this podcast now as a part of it.

[00:58:15] Julie Roys: And you’re going to have to watch this podcast now. It’ll be your first.

[00:58:18] Skye Jethani: Yes, I probably will.

[00:58:20] Julie Roys: Well, blessings to you. And thanks so much.

[00:58:22] Skye Jethani: Thanks, Julie.

[00:58:23] Julie Roys: And thanks so much for listening to The Roy’s Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And just a reminder, we’re giving away Skye’s book, What If Jesus Was Serious About the Church? to anyone who gives a gift of 25 or more to The Roy’s Report this month. As I often say, we don’t have advertisers or big donors at The Roy’s Report. We simply have you. The people who care about reporting the truth and restoring the church. So if you’re passionate about our mission, please go to JULIEROYS.COM/DONATED. Also, just a quick reminder to subscribe to The Roy’s Report on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or YouTube. That way you won’t miss any of these episodes and while you’re at it, I’d really appreciate it if you help us spread the word about the podcast by leaving a review and then please share the podcast on social media so more people can hear about this great content.

[00:59:23] Julie Roys: Again, thanks so much for joining me today. Hope you were blessed and encouraged.

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22 Responses

  1. the church is in trouble when christians start calling others bad names because they do not exactly agree on doctrine. I have been called many names by other christians for believing that God can and does call and gift HIs people as He sees fit, to preach, pastor, serve, etc regardless of gender.

    Case in point….A certain highly respected Southern Baptist woman who teaches woman to be godly believes the scripture says women should not preach or pastor or teach men. She claims it is serious sin of which one needs to repent.

    On youtube she discussed if women should attend seminary. She said yes but should not take courses for preaching or pastoring.

    She then compared women taking pastor/preacher courses (though they may never preach/pastor) to those who study how to do abortions even though they may never perform one !!!! She basically called Christian women wanting to learn about serving God the same as someone who knows how to kill babies !!!!!!!!!!!!! she called them accomplices to murder!!!!!!!!!!

    and she further stated that SBC and other seminaries who let women take those classes are ungodly sinners who need to repent if they allow women to take those classes !!!!!!!!!!

  2. Thanks so much for this podcast. I think many of us are frustrated with what the church has begun. I live in a somewhat rural area. We have several mega churches, I like to call them boxes churches, and those churches the pastors do not perform weddings or funerals. I have known people using these bi-vocational servant pastors to perform the weddings or funerals, which is so sad. Also, as I’m becoming more seasoned (maybe old) I notice that most churches have little use for the older saints and totally dismiss their needs. Many of these older saints sacrificed money and time to build churches, to be ignored in their older ages. We need to minister to people of all ages.

    1. You hit the nail on the head when I comes to seasoned saints. After I lost my husband in my mid fifties it quickly became abundantly clear my participation would now be limited to two avenues. First, I would be allowed to write checks. And second I was afforded the opportunity to keep my mouth shut.

      1. Jane, I’m so sorry that happened to you. The sad thing is by the time these young leaders figure it out, we will be gone. There is so much wisdom in our seasoned saints that should be shared with younger Christians.

      2. I too am deeply sorry Jane that your status and value was defined as such. I trust that genuine people of faith will in one way be a part of your life. One must though, are originations which are predominantly commercial in nature and practice, really churches?

      3. Jane, thanks for sharing your experience. You’re not alone in it.

        Agree with you and Kimberly that a church should embrace all of its spiritual family members in every age group and stage of life. Many, however, recruit a target audience that I call The 4M Club: middle-aged and married with a mortgage and a minivan [code for children]. Yes, we need effective ministries for growing families, but those who for any reason are unmarried, childless, renters, or old enough to qualify for Medicare should never feel like second-class citizens, even if their being ignored is unintentional.

    2. It does not help when churches group members by age and stage of life. Youth group, college and career, young marrieds, parents of teenagers, empty nesters and seniors etc.

      You have all these fellowship groups that are very narrowly focused into their own concerns. No learning from their older as you say seasoned saints, just a reinforcement of the challenges that come with each stage of life. You have parents with little children fellowshiping with parents of little children. All of their prayer requests are about getting enough sleep, finding time to rest, concerns about childcare, and then to the senior citizen group with the vast majority of prayer requests belong their health concerns.

      This to me reduces the value of the older members of the church. How do you develop relationships with younger people when you’re church experiences are moving in parallel not joined together?
      And is this something that has any chance of changing anytime soon?

      1. Tricia, when I was younger I always sought out seasoned saints to learn from their wisdom. I agree that a seasoned saint has much wisdom for a new Mom. My children didn’t have grandparents near by. The school my children attended had grandparent’s day every year. It was always so hard for them. Sometimes I would take them out of school and do something fun with them. One year I asked an older couple from our church if they would come and be stand in grandparents. They did and my children loved it. They felt cared for and loved. The husband in the couple developed Alzheimers. In order to give his wife a break, we took the husband swimming with my. children. What a wonderful relationship we all had. I agree the church needs to do a better job of truly making us a family in Christ.

        1. Kimberly, loved reading your story. During childhood, my siblings and I had limited contact with grandparents. At church we met surrogate grandparents, and as adults all of us have informally adopted spiritual parents and grandparents in our respective neighborhoods and churches. The enduring legacy of these dear people in our lives fuels my passion for intergenerational relationships in the church.

  3. What I find so ironic is how the “evangelical industrial complex” has spawned a whole new industry -the reporting on and critique of the evangelical industrial complex. That aside, Americans have a way of turning everything into a consumer commodity, including religion. BG was good at stirring up the crowds with his Red scare messages (those godless commies). It seems that more and more pastors-some sincere and others not so much- aspire to build a modern megachurch with all its power, wealth, and fame. I was reading somewhere that smaller-sized congregations are dying off because their programming and facilities can’t compete with the big guys. Thus, the free market at play.

    1. I would hardly call the few of us reporting on and critiquing the evangelical industrial complex a “new industry.” The Roys Report is a very small organization that’s trying to cover a huge issue with a team of freelancers and one full-time employee (me). There aren’t hardly any other outlets focused on the EIC and the abuse and corruption within it. Though The Holy Post does some critiquing of the EIC, that’s not the podcast’s focus.

      1. Julie thank you so much for this episode. Please have Skye on again soon. The conversation was so amazing and extremely thought provoking. I posted it to my social media hoping it would elicit some honest discussion. Julie, please pray that the Angels camp round about you. Psalms 91. That the Angels(Heb 1:14) would camp around you(and family/staff) like they were Daniel, to stop anyone from being able to consume you with their mouth. I have listened to Michael Brown and Rick Joyner talk about investigating scandals. I heard Rick call Mike Bickles situation a nothing burger. Then I heard you tell what happened. There was no comparison. You were telling the truth and they were obfuscating. Unreal

  4. Good discussion, but not nearly comprehensive enough to diagnose the depth of the problem, imo. Simply put the idolatry/infatuation that the EIC has with corporate/hierarchical structures of leadership is also carried over to idolatry of government and all the systems that are intimately controlled by it…health care being one of the foremost.

    The church is in dire crisis because it was used as a pawn to destroy the health and lives of so many people. Our DOJ is no longer trying to hide this fact. 5 state DAs are currently suing Pfizer for fraud. All the doctors, health care workers, pastors, and trusted journalist who participated will be held accountable. Anyone waiting for the perpetrator to admit their crime is simply naive.

    “ March 17, 2024 – Department of Justice: fraud and resulting death/injury from covid shots are part of the US public health policy (Sasha Latypova)

    …I suggest you all re-read this a few times to truly grasp the depth of depravity outlined in the argument by the DOJ. They are stating that they know that pharmaceutical fraud has been committed, and that deaths and injuries resulted from it.

    They are also stating that mass death and injury are in fact fully known to the pharmaceutical regulators, and that no corrective action is required because this is consistent with the United States of America’s public health policy…”

    From KATHERINE WATT’s substack post
    JUL 02, 2024

    1. Kenly:

      So I am supposed to believe you because of one article? No, the church is in crisis because it has embraced one of the most evil persons to ever live.

      1. Tom, obviously no.

        There have been multitudes of people exposing the blatant fraud in the medical field for years. The data and evidence is so enormous that to avoid speaking about it (silence) is to indirectly participate and condone it, which I will not do.

        This is not conspiracy theory, but a factual conspiracy reality, which requires repentance, restitution, and a full measure of justice from all those involved, directly or indirectly.

  5. Thanks Skye for coining the phrase the “Evangelical Industrial Complex”. It accurately represents the true nature of Evangelical ministries in the U.S..

    The use of NDA’s and cleverly crafted PR announcements seem to be a large part of the lifeblood of these ministries.

    If a ministry leader has a moral failure … no problem… a NDA and a PR announcement will solve all moral ills. We are a long way from a biblical worldview where actual transparent repentance would be required.
    In todays EIC, we just need the church’s legal counsel to review the NDA and the PR announcement.

    Also the little people in the ministry should not ask any questions or have any curiosity.

  6. Thanks, Julie and Skye. This was good and useful information. Admittedly, I am very concerned about the Lord’s Church today, but I do know that ultimately she will prevail according to the Lord Himself. I am a Pastor who loves God’s People, and I have made the effort to be diligent in the presentation of the Preaching/Teaching of the Word without entertainment or fanfare down through the many years. It is sometimes discouraging to see the spiritual laziness, apathy, and indifference of People who say they know and love the Lord. I’m thankful to be able to her this message today!

  7. Thank you so much for this podcast. Sadly, these same dynamics exist in smaller churches as well, propped up by the larger movement. The EIC is an entire subculture.

    1. Bonnie – I agree. I left my long-time small evangelical church and one of my concerns was how much it supported the EIC. I attempted on several occasions to have conversations with the pastor about celebrity preachers who had been revealed to be frauds (MacDonald, Ravi Z., Hybels, and others) and he consistently danced around it and subtly defended the celebrity.

  8. That was a very interesting discussion. As always, I wish both speakers had given more detailed examples of what they were talking about, in many cases.

  9. The Man-made church May be in trouble but the true church of Jesus Christ is alive and well. We might be fewer, dispersed and isolated but in online forums&discussions we meet. And yes many are being delivered from the false preachers&churches..
    We continue praying for our brethren.

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