Every church I know has a belief system. It’s a statement of faith or theological system with affirmations and denials of what they believe. It’s usually found somewhere on the website and in the foundational documents of the church.
But every church also has an unbelief system. It’s a statement of theological truths that probably aren’t written down anywhere, but govern the attitudes and beliefs within the church.
Unbelief systems are powerful. The serpent used an unbelief system in Genesis 3 to entice Adam and Eve to sin. Our unbelief systems drive attitudes and behaviors, and become powerful forces in shaping the church’s culture.
We’ve all been in churches that affirm all the right theology, but seem to do the right things. Their statement of faith is bang on, but their culture and their attitudes aren’t. The reason: their unarticulated unbelief system.
The job of pastors and elders isn’t just to preach the truth. It’s also to surface unarticulated unbelief systems, dismantle them with gentleness and courage, and replace them with the truth. This may be one of the greatest challenges in pastoral ministry. Of course, the job begins with us.
If you don’t address a church’s unbelief system, nothing will change. If you address it poorly, you’ll be driven out of ministry. If you address it well, it could make a huge difference in the health and vitality of the church.