I was talking with a friend a few weeks ago about a church she used to attend. She stopped going because the pastors, who called themselves “team leaders,” never wanted to deal with any topics that might be controversial, like abortion. In fact, their stated goal was that they wanted the church to be safe for people.
The thought of a “safe” church has bounced around in my head off and on since then. What in the world is a safe church, especially given that the gospel itself, is not safe. Jesus isn’t safe. God Himself, is not safe. In fact, I find no admonitions anywhere in Scripture for us, or the church, to be “safe.”
I had to follow up with her again to find out what they meant by “safe.”
From what she told me, the idea behind a safe church is one that anyone can come to and be comfortable with the messages being preached. In other words, the messages are affirming everyone in who they are without regard to their… well, eternal state.
This really is absurd. What it mean is that their church is one where the gospel cannot be found, for if the gospel is truly present, then the messages preached will be offensive to the carnal mind, simply because the message of the gospel tells us that we cannot save ourselves, we are justly deserving of eternal damnation and even though our children think we are good, before God, we are wretched sinners.
I can only imagine that there are quite a number of “safe” churches in our culture today, especially given the survey that came out this week by Ligonier Ministries. The survey showed that we are basically a nation full of humanists, even in the evangelical church. You can see the survey here.
What this means is the for the most part, people believe that being a Christian is something we do, something we accomplish, and that the God of our choosing, doesn’t really hold sin against us. As R.C. Sproul puts it, “What comes screaming through this survey is pervasive influence of humanism.” Humanism is man looking to himself for all things, where man is central to his existence. For true Christanity, God is the center of all things, especially our salvation.
Christianity declares that we are helpless, deserving of God’s eternal damnation and that He must save us! We are utterly and completely at His mercy. As God tells us: “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion (Romans 9:15).”
You will never hear such words in a safe church. They are too busy trying to give uplifting little ditties to make you feel good about your self, no matter how sinful you really are. And you really are sinful. We all are. It took a perfect Being dying an agonizing death on the cross in order to safe us. That is how sinful we truly are.
None of this is really new. Theological liberalism has been around for years, this is just a new rendition of it. Safe churches have always existed and their members had never heard of the Jesus who turned over the tables in the temple, called the Pharisees white-washed tombs, and turned to Peter saying, “Satan, get behind Me!” That Jesus doesn’t exist in safe churches because those who are looking for safe messages don’t want to hear that even sweet, little baby Jesus has wrath. That’s just too much for the safe crowd.
The sad reality is that these people will get a real glimpse of the wrath of Christ on judgment day when he declares to them that they be cast into hell, where the worm never dies and fire is never quenched, even though most of them don’t believe in hell on this side of death.
If you are part of a “safe” church, please run. There is no gospel to be found there. Move on, because there is nothing to be seen in a safe church, other than message after message telling you that you can be a better you if you just keep trying. And if that is the message you want, then quit going to church. Stay home and watch Oprah, or Joel Osteen. They are quite safe.