by | Aug 16, 2019 | Christianity Today | 15 comments

It threatens the church more than drugs, pornography, Islamic terror, fake news or any impending world calamity.  Left unchecked, it can’t be overstated how much damage it will do.  Yet, as dangerous as it is—and this is the maddening part—it is utterly curable and preventable.  But, tragically, we may not have the heart or the stomach to solve this crisis.

So, who or what is the culprit?  It’s not a situation it is a person. A person we cater to in all our programs.  Let me ask you: Who is using up vital resources? Who is driving pastors into deadly compromise—or out of the ministry entirely?  Who is responsible for shutting down, derailing, and destroying the things that matter to the Christian faith?  The answer is painful…are you even sure you want to know?

The villain is a monster of our own making.  University professors may have invented the easily triggered, woefully self-righteous, self-centered snow flake, quivering in their safe place, but we have concocted something much worse.  We have created the Low Impact-High Maintenance Believer, or the LIHMB.  They are a monstrosity that has been created by the church-growth-by-any-means-necessary-movement.

They have created the perfect storm.

How do I explain them to you? Think of the Intensive Care Unit.  There is a tube up the nose.  There is an I.V. in the arm pumping fluids, or painkillers.  There is a heart monitor, and a breathing machine.  They all serve the same purpose.  They keep the patient alive…artificially.  Many church programs today are doing the same thing.

The difference between hospital care and church care is that machines in the hospital are for those who can’t do anything for themselves…in the church, they are for those who won’t do anything for themselves.  They are why money for soul winning and giving to the poor is (pardon my pun) going down the tubes.  They consume all the time and resources of the church staff.

Because they are fickle, they have started a price war between churches—discounted discipleship.  Pastors compete to have the shortest service, the most convenient parking, the best coffee, and the least offensive sermon—and suddenly church has become speed-dating.

We now have an odd irony.  Church used to be about getting people to God. Now it seems to be about protecting them from God.

The Bible prophesied LIHMBs in 2 Timothy 4:3: “For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

They can’t handle life.  They can’t fathom the concept of self-denial.  They hold preachers hostage to all-consuming programs and sermons they hate preaching. Where there used to be a room full of disciples eager to participate, now there is merely an audience.

LIHMBs are the reason many godly people have given up on Sunday mornings.  But LIHMBs do even more damage.  They create a special kind of discouragement.  Think of the man or woman of God who pastors by the Book.  They see the church across the street use the latest stunts and explode overnight.  An immature believer says, “I am leaving, you don’t have what I need.”   A heartsick vessel of God wonders, “Am I a fool for sticking to my convictions?  Is it true that the pure Gospel, anointed by the Holy Spirit, cannot grow a church today without gimmicks?”

Daniel 11:32 says, “The people who know their God will be strong and carry out great exploits.”  The LIHMB Version should read, “The people who think they know God will be weak and carry out nothing.”

The solution is simple, dear leader:


-Meet with your deacon-possessed leaders and drop the gauntlet: “We are going to return the control of this Church to the Holy Spirit. We are going to center it on Christ, and let the chips fall where they may.”

-Expect many to leave.  Expect the presence of God to return.  Expect a whole new crop of true disciples to arrive, ready to serve.  Expect turn-away crowds that arrive early, for the right reasons.

Is it true that the “pure Gospel, anointed by the Holy Spirit, can’t grow a church today without gimmicks?”  Tens of millions of Pentecostals in emerging nations, who regularly see miracles and multitudes filled with the Holy Spirit, prove that to be a silly lie.

There are two massive reasons for us to have hope for real disciples, real revival, and real impact on our culture:  The Holy Spirit and Jesus.

The Holy Spirit is tasked with giving us power, strategy, and a mouth and wisdom that our adversaries cannot contradict or resist.  The Holy Spirit was sent to grow the Christian movement.  The most talented church marketer pales as a pathetic substitute for the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit.

The Church offers the most irresistible attraction of the universe:  Jesus Himself!

Charles Spurgeon wrote: “King of kings, and Lord of lords, the “Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father. The Prince of Peace.” “Yea, he is altogether lovely.” There are no flaws in Him. Jesus is lovely in the highest degree. Jesus is as lovely to my heart as to my head, as dear as He is good. He is lovely to my hopes: are they not all in Him? Is not this my expectation—to see Him as He is? But He is lovely to my memory too: did He not pluck me out of the net? As David puts it, “My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God”—the whole of the man seeking after the whole of the Savior; the whole Savior sweet and inexpressibly precious to the man’s entire being. May it be so with you and with me. Oh, to love Him wholly, and to love Him only, so that we have no eyes for other beauty, no heart for other loveliness since He fills our souls, and is to us “altogether lovely.”



  1. Ramona Sarsona

    I am so encouraged by you to continue on the straight and narrow road even though I walk alone sometimes daily yet He is before me leading me home. Thank you my dear brother in Christ Jesus our Lord for your words of encouragement.

  2. Carolina

    Dear Mario,
    What a great analysis of the LIHMBs.?
    Placated nonsense is what I’ve seen in ‘some’ of the local church houses we’ve attended. Yet I cannot ignore the responsibility that falls on those Pastors, Deacon bodies, and Elderships, who demanded running their services to mirror the image of Mega churches, who have encouraged their leadership to “count heads” as if Christ’s Beloved were cattle herded into their stalls, instead of seeing them as The Great Shepards blessed & holy flock.
    Commercialized Institutional church became a haven for people to attend once a week, then walk away and forget about it! I used to call them “Country Club Churches” because they’re actually quite similar.
    40 years ago an assistant Pastor Green from the church I attended, explained to me much like what you’ve said here today regarding how the church house should be viewed. He said, “the church itself is really a hospital for sin sick people to come and begin to heal and be cured of sin then move on as an outpatient spreading the good news of their healing cure by Jesus Christ and their Salvation to others.” “The problem”, he said, “is that the church/hospital, has become a place where its inpatients stay permanently & eventually can become terminal.”

  3. Alan Mittan


  4. Roger Culwell

    Wonderfully said, [oh Lord my heart cries, and my hunger lie’s, deep in the Spirit for you,] We have the Main attraction, the most wonderful gift on earth His Precious Holy Spirit and he should be in total control of the Church, he will draw what matters, he will draw the hungry, the hurting, the sick, the tormented, the sinner, and that’s the whole reason he is in control of the Church, he is the main attraction the God with us, with out him we just have a form of God, with him we have Jesus in us, things are so bad in the church, just because I mentioned Law and Order, because so many politicians think there above the law, I was being compared to Hitler, Stalin, and other’s, people with out knowing it showing who they stand for, big people in the church, we can’t even rightly divide a word, some have to try and destroy what God is trying to do, because they lose power and control of the church, well if the Holy Soirit is not in control it’s not God’s church, it may be your church, but its not God’s, Jesus is the head of the Church, and his Holy Spirit is in control of his Church, not man, God want’s his church back doing his work his will, his way’s, this is Gods buisness, and can only be done right and in his power, by the leading and control of his Precious Holy Spirit, only the Fathers will, will bring the Glory down, and make the church what it is supposed to be in Christ Jesus again, and complete surrender to the Precious Holy Spirit, we are trying to run a heavenly Kingdom, in a earthly natural realm, the Church and Kingdom are Supernatural, and can only be run in the Spiritual realm, thats the whole problem, we try to run the church in the flesh, and its Spirit designed, and can only operate right by the Holy Spirit of God. Be Blessed

  5. Roland Ledoux

    When you are told directly that you are harsh and unloving for preaching and pointing out the truth as well as being “judgmental” you know you have those that are finding it hard to give ALL to Christ. I’m not talking about being legalistic either, just doing what we can to put Christ first and allow the Holy Spirit’s manifest presence to draw is closer to Him.

    Great breakdown and our prayers are continuing for your ministry and God’s True Revival!

  6. Roland Ledoux

    Reblogged this on FOR THE LOVE OF GOD and commented:
    Another Great post, but one that also explains the “lukewarmness” within the organized church today. True Christians; WAKE UP!!

  7. Mark Stripling, Ransomed Ministries

    I preached in a tent revival in Mexico years ago. They sat on homemade wooden benches. The leader told me that the people will want an hour of praise and worship, an hour of special songs and testimonies (any and everyone could come and take the mic), and then “they are going to want you to preach an hour, and if they don’t get all of this, they will go home disappointed!” A three hour service under a tent on wooden benches?? A thousand came each night and an average of thirty were saved every night. They came in tears, in all ages, and they were starving for God! Compare that to time conscious, comfort seeking, spoiled believers today who get indigestion if they get the meat of the word and if you take more than 20 minutes! (And you didn’t sing the songs they like!) Today that tent revival has become a mighty church of thousands in a large, beautiful facility taking the gospel of Christ to a whole region of Mexico. May God deliver us from the current mind-set of how “church” should be. I want an encounter with God in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the earthly measure of time means nothing in the glory of that moment. Jesus, I am desperate for your presence and fellowship!

    • Carolyn

      Yes & Amen! I’ve seen it in churches, even some I have attended & left. The church hospital does not cure but wallow in it sin.

  8. warriorruth

    Another analogy is that the church is like a school – always teaching but never graduating their students. Even conferences can be like this. The church is to equip the disciples for the work of the ministry. The leaders should be working their way out of a job!

  9. Jayne Farrell

    Truth. Absolute Truth. Nothing was ever so heartbreaking than when we were singing at one of the largest churches in America, with 12 branches, and 4 of the praise and worship leaders approached me asking me what I meant by a statement I made concerning the Blood of Jesus. “What is so important about the blood?” They asked. I was so stunned in the moment, I hardly knew how to answer. I just blinked. These people had MANY P&W albums out and they didn’t know what was important about the Blood of Christ? That is scary. Thank you Mario, for your courage and honesty. II Timothy 4:3-5

  10. cactusflower18

    Yes, altogether lovely, altogether Holy; wonderful Savior and Precious Lord!!! It’s so exciting to see what He is up to these days; I’m expecting great and mighty outpourings, salvations, healings, deliverances, etc. like we have never seen!!! Hallelujah for Fresno and the areas around it.

  11. Darlene W

    I left a church just like you described after four years.It was disheartening to see so many stuck in alternative lifestyles and other sins knowing that their redemption was bought with such a great price.

  12. Patricia Barnes

    If pastors were to “return the control of this Church to the Holy Spirit. We are going to center it on Christ, and let the chips fall where they may.” I don’t think “many would leave.” There’s a good chance the church would come alive and step into the service you are talking about.

  13. Margaret

    Mario, I love all of your posts. I love your fire, the truth that you bring, your boldness, and your unwavering commitment to the Lord. You most certainly always bring the truth, even though many in the body don’t want to hear it. Lord, give us all continued boldness to stand only for You, always, with undivided focus!



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