Dr. Charles Wood: The Greatest Problem

The greatest problem in our churches today, by Dr. Charles Wood: The greatest problem? I am convinced it is the fact that hundreds of thousands of people sit in the pews of evangelical churches on a weekly basis who have never even so much as shared their faith with anyone else much less personally led anyone to the Lord. I serious doubt if many of these multitudes have even so much as ever invited someone to church (unless it was on the “pack-a-pew” night of an evangelistic meeting when they invited someone from another Bible-believing church to be their guest.)

The last words of Jesus didn’t include any mention of alcohol consumption, dancing, movie-going, Bible versions, standards, same-sex marriage, abortion on demand, or even a diatribe on musical tastes and preferences. Surely some of those matters are of importance to many, and some are to all who name the name of Christ, but they were not included in the words spoken during those precious last few days spent with His disciples. I have always attached greatest importance to the words spoken by someone who is in His right mind and knows he is dying. Jesus fits that picture, and it is interesting to note that His concern was with sending His disciples into all the world on a quest to make more disciples. How easy it is to get involved in “good” things and even “better” things and to leave the “best” things undone.

Unfortunately, this problem is made worse - in my estimation - by the fact that many believers, especially in fundamentalist churches - don’t even really know anyone who is unsaved. Surely they work among the unsaved and have relatives who do not know the Lord, to say nothing of lost neighbors, but they don’t really know their neighbors or co-workers, and they stay fairly clear of many of their unsaved relatives. Often, they are encouraged in this evangelism-discouraging conduct by pastors who teach, at least by example if not by word, that preservation of a specific religious culture is more important than presentation of the glorious Gospel. “Stay away from the world lest you become infected.” “Now that you are saved, you’re going to need a whole new set of friends.” “Come to church every time the doors are open” (even if it keeps you from ever getting to really know someone you might have otherwise led to the Lord).

How different from the approach of the Lord Jesus! He went to dinner at more than one tax collector’s home. He would not take the cured “Maniac of Gadara” with Him when he departed from Gadara; telling him, instead, to go tell others in his town what had been done for him. He told a big-time female sinner to go tell her friends and relatives (can you image what most of them must have been like?) about the man who knew all about her. A woman taken in adultery was told simply to go and sin no more.

Obviously, Jesus simply didn’t know that contact with the world might cause some of them to violate some aspect of a code of conduct that is at best derived from Scripture rather than specifically declared in it! Yes! There is room for teaching on some of the issues evangelicals - and especially fundamentalists - hold dear, but I really do question if those matters actually out-weigh the basic purpose for which Jesus came: to seek and to save the lost. Would we really have someone who smokes, drinks socially, goes to movies, dances, etc., go to hell rather than risk contamination by trying to get close enough to reach him or her with the Gospel?

Although I have reservations about the mega-church movement as a whole and about some particular churches of that genre in particular, I also have some personal first-hand observations that I think are interesting and revealing. There is a major mega-church near our church. Several people that I could not reach for Christ for one reason or another have now found the Lord through that church. When I run into them, I am always warmly greeted, and I find that all they want to talk about is the Lord and what He is doing in their lives and in the life of their church.

I also run into former members of our church who have left us because of our “liberalism.” They are also usually very courteous, but I find it almost impossible to engage them in any meaningful conversation about spiritual things that lasts more than two or three minutes. Asked about what God is doing in their lives or the life of their current church, they often respond with a blank look as if I had just spoken to them in Chinese. Maybe some of the time that we spend criticizing the mega-churches for their “John 3:16 only” approach and their “shallowness,” could be better invested in trying to win people to Christ. We are not doing a very good job of what I consider to be our most important task. This - to me - is the greatest problem of conservative evangelicalism and fundamentalism.


  1. Through the courtesy of Cogitations which is a free email distribution from Dr. Warren Vanhetloo, a retired Central Seminary professor.
  2. I'm not really sure if this is "the greatest problem" ... but it is a problem. I think that perhaps a greater problem is that Bible believers don't really know how to worship. But I'm still sorting that out!

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