Jordan Cooper quotes Ron Sider in an excellent Next-Wave article:
The heart of the matter is the scandalous failure to live what we preach. The tragedy is that poll after poll by Gallup and Barna show that evangelicals live just like the world. Contrast that with what the New Testament says about what happens when people come to living faith in Christ. There's supposed to be radical transformation in the power of the Holy Spirit. The disconnect between our biblical beliefs and our practice is just, I think, heart-rending.
I'm a deeply committed evangelical. I've been committed to evangelical beliefs and to renewing the evangelical church all of my life. And the stats just break my heart. They make me weep. And somehow we must face that reality and change it.
Cooper goes on to explain why our "success" mentality and tendency to insitutionalize the church keeps us from making the changes that are needed:
While we still love the church, we see the church having failed it's own basic mission. I wish I could hear a big Amen at this point but the reality is that not everyone sees it that way. I have colleagues in ministry that point to the Sunday attendance of their churches and their building programs and tell me that everything is going great and they criticize those of us that go in a different direction. All denominations deny this but the sweet allure of success is just too powerful, successful and big churches drive the agenda’s of many denominations, either formally or informally. Success is largest impediment of change, which is why most downtown cores of cities across the United States and Canada are full of massive church buildings that were the megachurches of their day. What made them successful made it very hard to change from that. Change and new initiatives don’t traditionally thrive in most institutions and need to be nurtured and protected at times.
Finally, Cooper suggests that the real important reason that changes must be made, despite the discomfort and challenge of it all, is that the nonChristian culture around us simply will not be reached by the institution we have come to call "church."
The church seems to have failed at our mission of evangelism and discipleship. We find ourselves surrounded by empty churches that we are afraid or embarrassed to bring unchurched friends to because we know they can’t connect to a culture they have no experience in. Perhaps even more sadly, we are apart of a church that is living much differently than what it preaches.
Have we, in the house/simple church movement, figured it out and "got it right?" Certainly not! We have so far to go in understanding what it is to BE the 24/7 people of God that Jesus called us to be. But at least we are experimenting, willing to cast off old forms and try new ones on. Hopefully we are trying to keep our eye on the ball--becoming true, living Christians. Hopefully, we are not pursuing change for change sake, but chasing the reality that church structures are meant to be fluid, constantly changing, as they support the lifestyle of growing, maturing Christians who are seeking to live missionally in their everday world. Hopefully we are, at the very least, discontent NOT to change because of our longing to see the church (the people of God) more radically impactful in a world full of need.
Cooper's entire article is found here.