I really do not have a nice topical link for this passage. But it links with what I have seen over a few decades of being around the church.
Those churches who deny the gospel die, and those members who stop attending church fall away.
1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. 9As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
12“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.”
At the moment, churches have become enamoured with marketing skills, and have fallen into the sin of Oprah, leading to an overt feminization of the church, with emotion triumphing over reason, and what is called love (but is lawlessness) and tolerance wiping all standards and expectations.
The worship — particularly the “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs — actively repel men. And when start to teach men, the wimmen get really annoyed and at times ministries get shut down.
Sort of. Take exodus as an example. The gay lobby has managed to legislate the ethical standards so that no man or woman can get therapy around changing their sexuality (for gender issues: other groups have therapy mandated — quite correctly — because their desire is fetish-tic, especially if for children). However, men and women of god with attraction to the same-sex need help — and Exodus tries to provide this. It means that at times I have to explain psychodynamic jargon to my Dad — so he can help these people. In the church, a feminist discourse may have taken over some training institutes and orders of religious, but the believer avoids these — simply because they are repugnant. Our younger Pastor chose to go to Regent College in Canada rather than Knox… but Knox (the local Presbyterian training institute) now has evangelical academics in place as the older ones have.. left.
Young man of God, you need to belong to a church. Most churches, however, will be uncomfortable. Some will frankly suck. Sitting in the pews, my advice has not changed.
- Go local. You want to be able to get there easily
- Stay within your theological tradition: if fact stay at the traditional end of the theological tradition. The Presbyterian Book of Order and exegetical preaching works. So does the Book of Common Prayer. Avoid the trendy and avoid free worship.
- Read old theology. Pre reformation is good. Reformation is better (and yes, I’m including the Catholics here, as the Reformation made Catholics think and reformulate their ideas).
- Attend regularly, including the services you don’t like. (In my case, people who speak Maori in a church which is 90% European, 8% Chinese, 1% Samoan and 1% indian: Cantonese, Samoan or Hindi would be more appropriate! Maori seems, in New Zealand, to fill the liturgical place Latin had — words murmured that no person understands).
- Try to find a church when travelling. We failed last Sunday — and you will. But try to meet with believers once a week.
But go to church. We are not commanded much by our Lord as a church, but preaching the gospel, baptizing, and making new disciples is what the church was commissioned to do, and we need to do that together.