We asked three biblical scholars and theologians (There is a chance they were all cult members in a remote compound in Idaho, but they seemed like pretty nice guys, so we are confident they are correct) this question, and in our extensive re-search, we found that a perfect Christian is one who conforms to the man-made standards of the Christian faith in any given age. Conforming to the status quo is the goal. Living out your faith in the way cultural Christianity dictates is the only way you’ll truly be satisfied in your Christian walk. So if you want to be perfect, as the great theologian Steven Curtis Chapman once said, “Saddle up your horses, we’ve got a trail to blaze.” Let’s go!
You may not know the road to Zion yet, but that’s why we’re here. We’ll point out the way along the tried-and-true path to complete Christian perfection. We’ll walk alongside you as you take each painstaking step toward igniting the divine spark within until you arrive at the peak of the Christian life, delighting in the knowledge that you are amazing.
A few decades from now John Piper will use your life as an example of radical,Christ-centered, God-saturated, all-satisfying sacrifice in one of his books. Maybe a supercool worship band will even write a song about you, using a deep, esoteric metaphor about a hurricane or a blazing inferno.
See, to become perfect, you need to be baptized in the glorious waters of Christian culture. Cultural Christianity is
an amazing thing. It’s a perfectly preserved bubble of every-thing that made the church awesome in 1950, like gospel quartets, three-piece suits, and pipe organs, with all the good vibes and positive energy from the sixties. Those who are submerged under its depths never surface, but instead they are transformed day by day into the radiant image of the modern American Jesus.
The root of your problem is that you’re not trying hard enough to become perfect by your own efforts. You’re trying to do the Christian life by the grace of God, allowing Him to gradually change you by the power of His Word. This works for some people, but it’s not befitting a true believer.
No, the true believer desires one thing above all else: conformity to the status quo of the modern church. Luckily for you, we’re here to make that a reality in your life. We’re going to get you plugged into a church that’s tripping over itself to make you amazing. We’re going to help you worship like a truly spiritual person, hands held up in victory and swaying like a palm tree in a hurricane. We’re going to help you clean up your life from anything the modern church has infallibly declared to be a sin, like listening to secular music or doing yoga. Finally, we’ll help you share your newfound perfection with others through evangelism and political outreach.
And then, when all is said and done, you’ll be able to stand on top of the summit of living the perfect Christian life and lift your hands triumphantly, like the silhouettes on those stock images your church uses during the worship time.
Ugh, we’re literally tearing up right now thinking about how amazing you’re going to be when we’re through with you.
You want to be a perfect Christian, and that is a noble goal indeed. But first things first. It’s impossible to get to the maximum level of holiness if you’re currently attending a church that is focused on the wrong things, namely, on
anything other than you.
Paul David Tripp once wrote that church is a place “where flawed people place their faith in Christ, gather to know and
love him better, and learn to love others as he designed.” It’s a nice sentiment, but it’s also completely wrong. Flawed people? Excuse us, Paul, but we’re trying to become absolutely perfect here, not hang out with a bunch of messed-up folks. We don’t need that kind of negativity in our lives. And neither do you—which is why you’re reading this book.
We know you may have feelings of loyalty or attachment to the humble, local expression of the body of Christ that
you’ve been a part of for years. You need to rid yourself of these unholy emotions. It’s time to step back and objectively evaluate whether or not your church is properly equipped to encourage you on your sacred quest to become the ultimate manifestation of impeccable spirituality.
So open your eyes and start looking for the red flags that indicate your church isn’t a spiritually fulfilling congregation.
Some of the most common warning signs that your church isn’t conducive to your personal growth into a perfect Christian include a pastor who preaches sermons that make you feel uncomfortable, a worship experience that centers your attention more on God than on your own feelings, and a church staff who refuse to incorporate the advice from the thousands of helpful comment cards you’ve left over the years. These kinds of churches are dangerous. If you find yourself treading water in a similar spiritual wasteland, it’s time for your very first step toward spiritual awesomeness: church shopping.
Your journey to living a flawless Christian life begins today! Ditch that group of hopeless losers who have been holding you back and instead find a church that’s built around you—and all of your needs and desires. According to recent research, every single town in America
has a minimum of 6,521,587 churches to choose from, so you’ve got your work cut out for you. You actually have a better
chance of winning the lottery while getting struck by lightning than of picking a good church near you on the first shot.
So it’s a great thing you have this book to help you out. In the olden days of the apostles (circa 1950), there were
just a few churches in town. If you wanted to visit one, you had to put on your Sunday best and build up the courage to march right in the front door without having a clue as to what to ex-
pect. What a nightmare. But—thanks be to God—these are the days of the World Wide Web, a magical portal to all kinds
of great resources (and almost nothing bad or degrading—lots of wholesome stuff, mostly). So you get what the church fathers could only dream of: the benefit of shopping around online for a church from the comfort of your own home.
Approximately twenty years after the magical Internet sprang up out of nowhere and revolutionized modern communication and commerce, churches discovered they, too, could create a website and spread the good news through the magic of technology. So the first step in selecting a new, improved
local body of Christ is to Google churches nearby and start separating the wheat from the chaff.
Try search terms like “church near me that has cool coffee bar” or “church near me that isn’t weird or stuffy” or “good
trendy church near me that uses T-shirt cannons.” Just have fun with it. You ought to use any search terms you think will help you sift through the millions of nonpersonalized churches in your area and find a true diamond in the rough: a church that emphasizes and cultivates the historical Christian virtues of convenience and comfort. Your search will likely return approximately four billion hits, but don’t worry—we’ll sort through them together.
The first thing to look at is the church’s name, which provides all kinds of clues to help rule out churches that stubbornly
refuse to cater to your felt needs 24/7. A lame name is a big no-no. What you’re really looking for is a church with a name that sounds like either a retirement community or a natural disaster.
Whispering Pines Community Church or Cedar Grove Church, for instance, are probably churches that are worthy
of your presence. These names could easily be confused with an apartment complex, a mini-mall, or a delightful retirement community—consider this a sign that you’re on the right track.
Alternatively, the church should have a name reminiscent of a destructive act of God. For example, consider checking out
churches with names like Granite Deluge of Life, Floodwaters Collective, Whirlwind Love Fellowship, or Blazing Inferno
Church. If the church sounds like its name alone could crush you under the destructive weight of its awesomeness, you’re probably going to be in for an exciting, you centric experience.
What you should be very cautious of is any church with a name that brazenly indicates an affiliation with any of the
major evangelical denominations, just hanging out there for the whole world to see. After all, you’re looking for an organic, custom-fit experience, not a stuffy old denomination. If the church meets you halfway with a name like Hurricane of Life Baptist, proceed, but with caution. Speaking of Baptists, this would be a good time to get into some specifics about denominations. There are several denominations to choose from. So let’s break down what each of them has in store for you.
If you do decide to go with a Baptist church, it’s certainly a noble heritage. Baptist churches have been around since, well, John the Baptist. It’s right in his name. This means that Baptist churches have literally been around since before the New Testament, so you know you’re going to please God by attending one of His elect church denominations.
Be warned, however, that Baptist churches come with a lot of rules, even though you do get really great potlucks
chock-full of superhealthy food. First of all, you can’t consume any drink stronger than a Diet Mountain Dew within fifty feet of a Baptist church. Trust us, it’s in the church’s bylaws.
If the Baptists sound too stuffy, you could try the Pentecostals, who allow you to get drunk, but only on the Holy Spirit (it’s not as awesome as it sounds). Pentecostalism was conceived by a group of Christians who were totally high after attending a particularly groovy ABBA concert in Southern California in the fall of ’79. As a result, this denomination is
totally cool with dancing, especially during worship songs, ser-mons, announcements, the offertory—it’s pretty much Soul Train at all times when you’re among a charismatic congregation. Just be sure to pack your own tambourine or dancing ribbon so you’ll fit right in when wild, noisy gyrations begin erupting all around you.
Mainline denominations can be a nice choice because they won’t really hold you to any theological standards. Mainline
doctrinal statements consist solely of questions. But by the time you’ve finished reading this sentence, odds are that every mainline church near you will have closed its doors due to bleeding beliefs and declining attendance. So that’s probably not a solid option for you anyway.
Another important mark of a healthy church is that it does not have a statement of faith. If there is a list of dogmatic beliefs anywhere on the website, no matter how well it’s
hidden, run. Flee. Stay very far away. At most, allow for the church to have a vague page titled “Our Journey” or “The
God Story” that lays out a very fluid set of general teachings in poetic cadence. A beliefs page that simply lists some U2
lyrics is all right by us too.
Unacceptable Statement of Faith Excerpt.
We believe the Bible to be the Word of God, perfect in all its parts, truth without any mixture of error, and useful for all areas of the believer’s life.
Acceptable Statement of Faith Excerpt
In the locust wind comes a rattle and hum Jacob wrestled the angel And the angel was overcome.
Remember, you’re going to be stuck at this place for months or, in rare instances, years. You want a place that’s not going to pin you down too rigidly on any of your key doctrinal beliefs. Their positions should be vague enough that you can slip by with your shifting, undefined understanding of the Christian faith com-
pletely intact. We know it’s difficult to pass on a church that checks all the right boxes but fails in this regard, but we’re looking out for you, and you have to trust us. The last thing you want is to be forced to take a stance on a core doctrine of the Christian faith. This is for your own good, brother or sister in Christ!
Navigating through the website’s various pages and menus, you ought to find their logo prominently displayed (ideally, it
should take up the entire top half of your screen, but we won’t be too rigid on this). Make sure the church has a logo that is just straight fire. Literally. It should have fire in it. Or water.
Finally, surf your way to the part of the website where you can check out the vast array of ministries and services your
potential new church has to offer. If you find only Sunday morning services, Wednesday night Bible studies, and a small group or two listed, that’s just not gonna cut it. This is a huge red flag, and you’ve got to cut this one loose. A respectable church should offer more upcoming shindigs than any local club, venue, or arena. We’re talking no less than three dozen wild events in the next month. That’s a bare minimum. Their ministries should be wide and varied, with ultra-specific groups tailor-made for every age level, walk of life, race, color, creed, nationality, hobby, gender, hair color, and species under the sun. After all, can we really call a local gathering a New Testament church if they don’t offer a middle-aged male former Ping-Pong enthusiasts ministry?
Now, with any luck, you’ve narrowed down your search using the magic of the Internet. You’ve found a church that looks as though it could help you along the path to perfection. Great!
The next big step is to perform a drive-by. You want to scope the place out in person before committing to anything or
meeting anybody who might want to talk to you.
Hop into the family minivan and cruise on by your potential new Sunday gathering place. At this point, if the commute
takes any more than three minutes, abort the mission. Church commutes of five, ten, fifteen, or more minutes are simply not convenient, and we’ve already established that convenience is what it’s all about. In addition, if the church is more than three minutes away from you, why hasn’t the pastor launched a satellite campus right down the road from you? Why don’t they just put a big pop-up on their site saying, “We don’t value you”? Any church with less than twelve satellite campuses is probably dying anyway.
Pull up to your prospective church, situated a short distance from your home, hopefully with plenty of parking and a gorgeous, well-manicured, expensive-looking property. Ideally, the main church building will be of modern construction, no older than five or six years. The more indistinguishable the structure is from a shopping mall, nightclub, or theme park the better.Look out for noncontemporary warning signs like steeples, crosses, hymnbooks, or any other old-looking funny business that might indicate anything traditional or time tested. Stained-glass windows or evidence indicating the pastor is preaching methodically through a book of the Bible should also raise your suspicions. After all, you’re looking for a church that can encourage you toward excellence. How are they supposed to do that if they don’t have an annual operating budget larger than most third-world countries? How are they going to help you become a perfect Christian if they don’t run the church like a Fortune 500 business?
We want to take a moment at this point to let you know you’re doing a great job of becoming a perfect Christian. You’re
well on your way. Lots of people would have started to question whether or not choosing a church is really all about finding a place where you’re comfortable and catered to. But not you—you’re sticking this out because you know God wants to give you His best blessings now!You really are special. Just sit there for a moment and think about how amazing you are. We’ll wait. Done? Great. Then let’s gear up to walk you through your first Sunday morning visit inside your potential new church!
Excepts from the book - What is a Perfect Christian
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