the weblog of Alan Knox

A change in diet and exercise for me… and for the church

Posted by on Jul 22, 2011 in discipleship | 8 comments

A change in diet and exercise for me… and for the church

Last week, I went to the doctor for a physical checkup. I did not feel bad; I didn’t have any symptomatic issues. But, it was time for a physical.

The doctor examined me thoroughly and did not find any external issues. But, when he started talking internal issues – minute issues actually – he said that he found problems. While I was not having any outward physical symptoms, he said there were some internal indicators (from the blood work) that things were not going as they should be.

Some of the test when combined with one another, showed that I was headed toward heart problems if something didn’t change. So, what needed to change? Well, I could change by taking medicine. But, that’s not what the doctor recommended.

You see, the problem is that my body was not working the way it should be working. Oh, all of the parts were working fine, but together, it was not functioning as a body is supposed to function. A body is designed to work – exert – exercise. But my job is extremely sedentary. (Well, my fingers get a workout, but that’s about it.) This type of sedentary lifestyle is not healthy.

Also, he said that the things I was putting into my body were not the things that my body needs. I was eating plenty of food, but I was not eating the right kinds of food. And, the kind of growth caused by this food was not the kind of growth that was healthy.

So, the doctor recommended (instead of medication) changing my diet and exercise so that they were both more in line with the way my body is designed. That makes sense to me, and so for the last few days, we have changed our diet, and we have begun exercising.

One night, while I was walking and thinking about the conversation with my doctor and our changes in diet and exercise, I realize that my predicament is very similar to what is happening (or not happening) among the church – at least from my personal experience, from what I’ve studied, and from what I’ve read about.

Today, the church – like my body – is not healthy, although at the surface there may be few – if any – symptoms. The problem is that we are often measuring the wrong things. We are seeing “growth”, but not the kind of growth that the church was designed for. In fact, much of the church’s “growth” today is actually at the expense of other parts of the church.

Similarly, while on the outside we may see huge numbers and overflowing bank accounts (although this is changing now, isn’t it?), when we look closer – looking into the details of people’s lives – we find indicators that something is wrong.

Then, when we compare the church today to the way the church was designed to function (as described in the New Testament, for example), we see drastic differences.

Most people – not all, but most – would agree with what I’ve said about the church so far. However, many would suggest that the church needs medicine – something added from the outside.

Perhaps, instead, the church simply needs a change in diet in exercise. Perhaps the church simply needs to take in the kinds of things we were designed for, and we need to work in ways that we were designed to work.

Now, of course, even if I’m right, we must decide what diet and exercise is good for the church…

What do you think?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 7-22-2011

    Take 2 communion wafers and call me in the morning…

  2. 7-22-2011

    What is this “exercise” you speak of?

  3. 7-22-2011

    Priceless Swanny!

  4. 7-22-2011

    I think you are absolutely right. In fact you couldn’t be ‘righter’. The analagy of the body is perfect, and, as my mum used to say, what you feed it, it becomes. Give us this day our needed bread, is spiritual and physical. Having received, we turn it, by exercise, into ‘muscle’ – or strength. Keep fit!

  5. 7-22-2011


    I’m not sure that’s the diet or exercise that we need…


    Hey, I asked you first.


    Probably worth the price too…


    Thanks. Do you have any suggestions for actual diet and exercise that would benefit the church?


  6. 7-22-2011


    The analogy you make between yourself and the church is a good one. I think it is a little more complicated than it seems.

    I suggest that my physical situation is closer to where the average church is truly at. You see, because of the chronic osteo-arthritis which affects my almost every joint, I simply cannot do the exercise I would like, (a fact I was lamenting to my wife about 30 minutes ago).

    Like the church I used to function extremely well. 20 mile mountain bush walks, 100 mile bicycle rides were common. A 1 mile slow walk, with difficulty and a walking stick, is now all I can do.

    It is my opinion that the church is in the same boat, and, without major internal restructuring, it is crippled. Like me, exercising the old “body”, without the joints being given back their proper function, just creates severe pain.

    That internal restructuring can only happen as the Holy Spirit restructures the bones and joints, “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit,who apportions to each one individually as he wills”.

    There needs to be one more ingredient,”If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing”.

  7. 7-22-2011

    Hey Alan –
    Sound insight – however I see a lot of ill symptoms in the Church – that, at least to me, are rather obvious. 1) our most popular spokespeople are known more for their glitz and glamor than their willingness to leave all for the Gospel, 2) the transition in Christian bookstores and Christian media from a biblically literate to a the hopelessly therapeutic – ie. Christian bookstores and even Christianity Today used to be places for serious bible students – now they’re either self-help centers or so packed with adverts that one needs to go elsewhere for sound biblical study aids. 3) 75% of American clergy are overweight. I use this as an indicator of the way we’ve distanced ourselves from the spiritual disciplines of fasting and self-control. We are a fat, dumb and happy American church that says little or nothing useful at the injustices around us. Of course, I could go on, but that’s enough to get my point across – that yes, you’re right, the church is ill, but it’s really pretty obvious.

  8. 7-23-2011

    Aussie John,

    Yes, I agree with your diagnosis… 🙂


    I see many symptoms as well. Some within the church do not agree with us because they do not recognize those things as symptoms… yet.