The Great Challenge in the Church Today

Margaret —  October 27, 2012 — 33 Comments

Empty Promises

In Empty Promises: The Truth About You, Your Desires, and the Lies You're Believing, Pete Wilson challenges readers to break free from empty pursuits and start chasing the only Promise that will ever satisfy. Pete is the founding and senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and I recently had the opportunity to talk to him about what trends he's seeing in the church today.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you see in the church today?

A: Every culture in history has blind spots, and the 21st Century North American church is no exception. We have huge blind spots. That’s why church history is so important. It provides perspective.

I think one of our blind spots these days comes in how we measure success. The obvious tendency is to measure success strictly by the numbers. I've heard it said many times that if a church is growing it's healthy. Well, I don't think that's necessarily true.

I like the way the Apostle Paul said it in Galatians 4:19:19 “Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives."

My goal as a pastor is to see Christ formed in my life and then in the lives of the people I've been entrusted to lead. So my church may do one hundred others things well but if we fail at this task of becoming more like Jesus, with my understanding of Scripture, we've failed at our mission. And helping our people grow in Christlikeness is a huge challenge.

Q: If you could say one thing to church leaders, what would say?

In our culture today it's very easy to get caught up inside of what’s been called the “empire of entitlement.” Inside of this empire I start to think?

  • Life should revolve around ME.
  • Relationships are about meeting MY needs.
  • Fruitful ministry is the result of MY effort.
  • The things I have are because of MY hard work.
  • Luxuries become like MY necessities.

I have to be very careful, especially when things are going well, that I don't live inside of the delusions of  this empire for long. As soon as I start to believe that I have what I have because of MY hard work it leads to all kinds of unhealthy extremes. When I sense myself drifting in this direction I have to remind myself of Scriptures like this one in Deuteronomy.  Moses’ warning is so relevant to many of us today. Especially those of us in leadership.

"Then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.' But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today." (Deut 8:14-18)

Who gives power?
He does.
So whose power is it?
His.
Not yours.
Which means?

Good leaders don’t seek to acquire power; in fact, they ferociously try to give it away.

Q: What do you hope people give out of this Empty Promises?

A: I wrote Empty Promises because I saw a natural drift in my own life to find purpose, meaning and even love from things that did nothing but leave me empty and wanting.

The more I talked with others about my experience, the more I realized that almost everyone had this deep longing to feel worth, significance, acceptance, love, and beauty. There are certain things our soul just longs for on this journey. And whether we realize it or not our souls have been shaped by this search.

There is this unquenchable longing that everyone in your church has that tempts them to sacrifice everything they have and everything they are to be a little richer, a little more powerful and successful, a little more in control, a little more loved ll in this futile attempt to heal the inner emptiness.

It’s so easy to think:

If I had this.

If I had that.

If I had what they have?

Then I would feel loved, valued, and worthy.

But sooner or later we discover the heartbreaking truth that no matter how powerful, or successful or loved we become, it¹s never enough. That’s why I’m so excited about this book. I believe people desperately need to not only be able to identify idolatry in their life, but they also need to discover that each of these deep longings of the soul are actually God-given longings.  I dream of the day when we all realize that God placed these longings in us in order to draw us closer to Him.

In this book we'll explore the narrative of the Bible, which shows God drawing His people away from these empty promises and to Himself over and over again. We’ll discover, together, that God can, will, and always desires to give you what none of the empty promises of this world can give you.

Thank you for reading. I’d love to connect with you through the comments. Don’t forget to subscribe via RSS!

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33 responses to The Great Challenge in the Church Today

  1. This is exactly what I am learning from God right now. He is showing me how much he loves me and has been pursuing me

  2. I used to chase career success thinking that I would be happy and satisfied once I “made” it. And then I met Jesus…

  3. I read Plan B and was blessed. I look forward to reading “Empty Promises”. Over the last few years I’ve been very surprised to find the idols I’ve been worshiping that I had no idea were idols! But God, who loves me and longs for me to live abundantly, continually works to reveal those things I am placing my faith in that are offering only “empty promises”. Some of those things are good things and God intends for me to enjoy them — but they are not to be the source of my joy, satisfaction or fulfillment, safety or security.

    Bless you today, Margaret…have a great one with Him!

  4. Chérie Schultz October 27, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Personally haven’t had a chance to read any of Pete’s books, but would love to start with this one.
    Sounds like a great devotional read that would dig deep and challenge the idols that can hide in every Christians life.
    I’m up for that kind of challenge.

  5. Pete started following me on twitter before I finished reading Plan B.
    Looking forward to the new one!!!

  6. I buy into the lie all of the time that money will make me and my family happy. It’s a lie and it’s deadly

  7. I have just stumbled upon your blog and I am adding it to my blog roll. It is quite timely to see this posting and this book you are giving away. In my Bible study (Philippians,) in our church’s sermon/teaching series right now (1 Corinthians,) in a recent gift (Timothy Keller’s The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness,) in a new ministry (The Weight of Grace) soon to launch at my church, and now here at your blog I am encountering God’s idea of a believer’s “self” and how it stands in stark contrast to the world’s lies about it! Thank you!

  8. I visited Cross Point a few weeks ago when visiting Nashville and got to meet Pete while there. Though we only visited for a minute or so, he was everything I expected and more – kind, humble, and gracious. I haven’t had the privilege of reading any of his books yet but I’d love the opportunity. Thanks for offering the giveaway!

  9. I took 6 months out of ministry earlier this year to discover what my purpose is in life, what is God calling me into, and have now returned to children’s and youth ministry. I’d love to read Pete’s book.

  10. I would love to win a copy of this book. This sounds so much like what I struggle with daily…trying not to want more and be jealous, and to be content with what i have no matter how little that may be.
    Have a Blessed day everyone!

  11. I think I have chased the empty goal of money and career…it roots in resentment and spreads into jealousy. I think winning this book would be great.

  12. Found myself chasing? I’m still chasing! Its a struggle to convince myself that I’m good enough or should be satisfied. It’s hard not buy into society’s lies and keep up with the Jones.

  13. Read this book a while back. It is truly an amazing read! Whoever gets their hands on this book will be challenged to their core to rethink what idolatry is and how it affects us at the heart. Another great read is Tim Keller’s Counterfiet Gods.

  14. I saw Pete @ my church (Quest in Lexington KY) and thought he did an amazing job!

  15. I am the CEO, CFO and President of the Cult of Me… and the emptiness when I forgot that Jesus shut the doors on that bankrupt establishment is profound. He took me into receivership & has so much more in store for me when I’m just Mark, the guy who knows who know the Boss really is.

    Would love to win the book – PLAN B is a favorite of mine.

  16. I have never read anything by Pete actually and I am in Africa. However I have heard him speak and preach- powerful, motivating and inspiring. So I know for certain that it would be a great read. I hope to find out.

  17. The tragedy in my life is directly routed from God’s judgment. I have to recall constantly the fallen nature of the world and my own sinful nature.

  18. Pick me. I just need it. In a rocky place right now and seeking the Lord. Need a lift.

  19. I find myself over and over again, chasing the promises of peace and contentment; the problem comes when I forget that I do not have access to peace on my own – it comes only from God, and I must relinquish my pursuits, and follow after Him, to receive His peace.

    I would love a copy of Pete’s book, but mostly, I wanted to say thanks for making me remember this truth today…I really needed to hear it.

  20. The content of “Empty Promises” seems to be very timely information for today’s church, especially here in America.

    I would love a copy.

  21. I constantly press up against the lie of pride. Striving to always be reminded its not me it is God working through me.

  22. Sounds like a great read.

  23. Ive chased the promise of being liked by everyone, not possible

  24. I chase professional success in my current industry, though it may not be what I’m passionate or called to do. It’s where I’m at–and it’s easier to just stay on this road than to find my way on a less familiar path.

  25. I would love to read this book! I really enjoy reading books that big deep and challenges you to grow.

  26. I loved Plan B. My life seems to be a lot of those. I’m very interested in this book, too, because I so often struggle with the “if onlys”. I have this picture in my head of what life is supposed to look like, even how my relationship with God should be,, which often has me going down very unfulfilled paths.

  27. For me I’ve pursued the promises that go along with my profession and found that I’m not passionate about what I do. I’ve recently been focusing on finding out what exactly God has for me within my current job and where I feel God is leading me.

  28. Sounds like I could use this book.

  29. Tired of the race of making everyone happy and settling. Tired of letting that come before God and trying to bring me down at times

  30. I haven’t personally read any of Pete’s books, but I would love to own a copy of Empty Promises. I’ve been following his posts and twitter for some time and love his inspirational words and posts.

  31. I would love to win a copy of Empty Promises. A huge part of my story was marked by performance and in those places I get to really remember grace and Matthew 11:28.

  32. I read and was so encouraged by Pete Wilson’s other book, “Plan B.” I would love to read this book as well!

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