Anyone of us who has spent time participating in or leading within the American church over the past several decades knows that there are many things that aren’t quite right. Sometimes the issues seem so large it’s hard to even process where to begin in eradicating some of these issues. I was speaking with a really good friend the other day about just how overwhelming it all was and how it may be easier to forget about trying to better the church and live our own lives the best that we can. I reminded him how that wasn’t an option. Jesus is coming back for a thriving bride. Not one that is walking around like a wounded dog. It’s our responsibility to seek vision and wisdom from our Heavenly Father and begin building up a church that He will be proud to come back for some day.
As many issues as there are and as many debates as we can have as to what is wrong with the church and how to correct it, I’m going to make an assertion and propose that the core root of our disjunction is that the church no longer knows how to honor God or other people. Many don’t even want to talk about honor in the church today. They believe that the way to honor other people is to leave them well enough alone with their own thoughts and opinions. To be honest when churches mention the word honor in their vision or their list of core values, they truly miss the mark on how to implement it rightly. They may have the language, but honor within their culture is nowhere to be found.
When I think about an authentic ambassador of honor within the church I think about Danny Silk from Bethel, who writes and elaborates on living out a culture of honor so well. So please if you want to dive deeper in what this should truly look like in your church, your family and even your work relationships, feel free to explore his writings or YouTube videos on honor. But I do want to share a couple of things that I have noticed in my years in the church and from being in positions of leadership within the church. I pray that these few ideas can help you begin to honor well in your relationships.
John Maxwell often talks and writes about the value system that we place on people. It happens even in our subconscious before we speak or meet with others. At first glance, when we initiate conversation with people and begin to find out more about those we encounter, we begin placing number values on their foreheads. A man who dresses in designer clothes or who speaks intelligently may receive a higher number than someone who walks around in tattered clothes and a speech problem. When we realize that people have amazing characteristics or talents their numbers go up. When we notice that they actually aren’t good at anything or have nothing to offer, the number goes down.
The issue of dishonor in the modern church is rooted in the underlying truth that we also place numbers on people’s foreheads based on what they can offer or the potential they have. When we see someone as a 4 because they don’t bring much to the table and God sees them as a 10 because He created them perfectly, a deficiency in honor is born.
I’ll get to why the church has unknowingly adopted this system in my next point, but when we understand that’s how we operate, we can intentionally begin to turn that ship around. Being aware of this flaw in our perspective of God’s children allows us to ultimately pray differently, but it also gives us the ability to take a second look past what we see and to begin discovering what God has placed inside someone that makes them the 10 that they are. Every one is a 10 no matter what you think. We all have something very important to offer to the body of Christ. It’s dishonoring when we push people to the side to entertain the ones that WE see as valuable.
One crucial point that I also want to make is that someone’s value doesn’t drop after mistakes, slip-ups in navigating their spiritual journeys or even in moral failure. They are still 10’s. There may be some corrective action that needs to take place but they are still valuable for ministry as God opens up a door for them to enter back in. Just because someone does something to jeopardize their integrity in the now doesn’t mean that they are invaluable for the future. Learning how to honor well means always being able to see the 10 God has placed on their foreheads and walking with them through trails and struggles to make sure they see it and help them walk in alignment with that number.
Friction in Consumerism
The reason that I have gathered why we see people with different levels of value within the church is because we are low key competing with the rest of the market. When the church across town has the hottest graphics in the city, we have to make sure not to hire a graphic designer who is subpar in comparison. We may claim that we are trying to build “the kingdom” but in all reality we aren’t all on the same team. We are completing with one another. It’s tragic but it’s true.
I’ve been on church staff for the past 6 years and I have had many conversations with fellow ministers across my denomination and state. It’s always a peacock contest whenever we start talking about how many people our churches are running on Sunday or what hip programs we have going on. The church can’t be consumer driven and not compete with one another. And unfortunately we have become so focused on building our platforms and churches that we have forgotten what it looks like to build the kingdom. And yes they are two very different things.
When you look at companies like Apple and Samsung, there has always been and there will always be a friction between the two. Who has the best value? Who is coming out with the most up to date technology? Who’s camera takes the best picture? They are in a constant state of competition with one another. This is what the church has become. We won’t say it and I believe we are really doing some great things to collaborate with each other to accomplish great things in our communities, but we are always comparing and trying to provide a better product than the other church to attract more consumers on Sunday mornings.
Because we have become so consumer focused we have become less Kingdom focused and because we have become less Kingdom focused, we have lost Kingdom values. Everything we see we see in the natural realm and have lost the ability to see people as God sees them. When we only see people with a natural eye we miss the mark on seeing who they truly are and fail to help them identify what God is wanting to do through them within the church. We feel really good about sticking the 4’s and 5’s on the greeting team or pouring coffee on Sunday mornings instead of investing in them to help them discover their kingdom building abilities. It’s dishonoring when we do this. But we do it way too much.
Is God Getting the Honor He Deserves?
Some of you may shut me off here but I believe the core issue with honor in the church flows down from the fact that we simply don’t know how to honor God rightly. Many of us (if not all of us) have things that we place before God in our every day routine. Most of us fail to allot time to spend in His presence because we have other things to do or we simply don’t find it beneficial. In order to give God the highest honor, we have to die to ourselves daily and place him first in all we do. We have to walk in our righteousness to honor God. Much of this looks differently for each of us but the truth is when we aren’t honoring God we aren’t honoring the people in our church either. As much as we don’t want to admit it we are more than likely too busy honoring ourselves and our own desires.
I don’t say all of this to sound religious but honor does flow down. When we set our attention on honoring God from a place of purity it opens up our hearts to honor others the same.
There are so many different lines of denominations and churches within the Christian faith it becomes so easy to get into the “we’re right and their wrong” conversations. That mentality is a breeding ground for dishonor. Honor is something that is shown and not verbalized. Churches will talk about honor all day but have zero ability to make it a core standard within their cultures. Implementing honor is an intentional thing that does get really messy. But I believe when we truly get to a place where honor is an authentic and highly regarded value in the American church, we will see a bride rise up that produces life within it’s members and truly has the power to win the lost and build the Kingdom.
This barely scratches the surface on honor in the church but I believe it can be a good starting point. I did just realize that I didn’t use bible at all in this post but I’ve got a couple of really good examples of honor from scripture that I will explore more in depth with you soon:)
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