If your church closed its doors, would it be missed in your community?
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
Lately, I have been reading and thinking about what has happened to most Western Churches. Over the past thirty years I have watched a steady decline in the general interest in studying God’s Word. Actually, it’s a general decline in anything pertaining to the Lord and His work. Many who were once on fire for the Lord have become apathetic. Pursuing God at all costs has become merely an intellectual exercise to discuss, but certainly not to do. Whatever we’re doing in our churches isn’t working, but we keep at it, trying harder, thinking that for some inexplicable reason, things will be different this time.
One common theme I have seen from church to church is the belief that if the flock is simply given the correct information, they will take it and run with it into a life of obedience and servanthood. Even in churches with great teaching, the faulty premise still remains. They are convinced that information is the key to growth. The unspoken strategy is that if people sit under the great teaching of the pastor long enough, eventually they grow to maturity and fulfill their calling, whatever that may be.
The missing ingredient is true biblical discipleship-one on one teaching and mentoring to grow the information into genuine transformation. When the early church was growing like wildfire, it did so by the power of truly transformed lives-lives that ran so counter to the culture that those around them couldn’t help but notice the difference. While operating within the culture, the new believers successfully influenced it by living out the principles they had learned. Information was only the beginning. Real change came only after the information gave way to transformation.
AS I SEE IT
The vast majority of church member today want only to attend a service once a week to get their religious fix so they can get on with their lives. I know that sounds harsh, but I really think it’s true, and it’s partly due to our faulty Western premise. We have produced a church full of complacent and apathetic members who have never been transformed. In many cases, they’re not really interested in the information. Look around and see how many people bring their Bibles and take notes during the message. My guess is that those who do make up less than 1% of all church goers.
As a result, non-transformed churches have embraced the culture and have modified their services to become more culturally acceptable. Instead of showing themselves to be a breath of fresh change from the culture, they have adopted its music, dress, and overall laid back approach so they can show the newcomers that they’re really no different from them. To judge their success, they look at how large the church is. The larger it is, the more they assume they’re on the right track. Their church becomes an end in itself. Growing larger is the goal.
A truly transformed church, however, will have an influence beyond the church walls. It will be engaging the culture around it, modeling the early church. Consider your own church. It if suddenly closed its doors, would it be missed by the community? Would it leave a void? If the honest answer is “no,” it’s a good indication that transformation is needed. If this is the case, no program or well-designed strategy will bring the needed changes. If this describes you and your church, it’s time for prayer and fasting…and ultimately, real transformation.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE