restoring our biblical and constitutional foundations


Saying Goodbye to the Needs-Based Church

 David Alan Black 

I have frequently stated the case for a biblical ecclesiology over against an ecclesiology based on human tradition and secular anthropology. I shall not repeat that argument here. Here I wish to observe that all talking and writing is worthless until we act upon our biblical principles. It is this need for action that I now pursue.

I address myself primarily to leaders of local churches, though all believers ought to be concerned about the alarming trends in modern evangelicalism. I would ask them the following question: Is your ministry model man-centered or God-centered, is it needs-based or truth-based, is it consumer driven or Scripture-driven, is it culturally defined or theologically defined?

I can, perhaps, simplify the question even further. Is your ministry biblical? While repairing the shoes of others, the shoemaker’s own soles may wear out. So I ask: Are you willing to stand for the truth, or will you accommodate your life and ministry to the world? Consider these options:

  • Is your ministry driven by pragmatism more than principle?
  • Have you succumbed to the “church of the unchurched” philosophy?
  • Do you place relevance above truth, success above faithfulness?
  • Does the authoritative Scripture shape your practice of ministry, or do you submit the Scripture to your own examination?

Someone once said that ministers apostatize by degrees. They slowly drift from a biblical mooring and end up abandoning a biblical course. May I say it plainly? Any attempt to abandon a biblical philosophy of ministry will inevitably lead to a pragmatic, carnal, and even sinful approach to ministry. We must make sure we begin and end with the Scriptures.

Our first responsibility as disciples of Jesus is to study God’s Word on all these issues. Too often we come to the Scriptures with our own preconceived notions seeking to find proof-texts that justify our prejudices. In a day when evangelicalism has become complacent, compliant, and compromising, the tendency is to baptize the status quo and place it above criticism.

But this is totally unacceptable. The church stands at a crossroads. Either it will be radically theological and therefore radically obedient to God regardless of the puny ambitions of man, or it will be part of the “new” ideology that looks magnificent on the outside but on the inside is full of dead men’s bones.

To choose Christ implies rejecting needs-based Christianity; to choose needs-based Christianity means rejecting the implications of the gospel. The alternative, I believe, is just that stark, and a choice must be made.

July 31, 2005

David Alan Black is the editor of If you would like to know more about becoming a follower of King Jesus, please feel free to write Dave.

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