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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Your Church.... Dying or Thriving?


So my wife ran across something surfing the net the other day that struck me as interesting when she showed it to me.  It was a list somebody had put together about things you can do that cause churches to close.  It reminded me of a sermon I gave in my church nine years ago, so I dug it out, and so, though it’s kind of random, I thought I’d add my tips to the mix out there in the blogosphere.  I would also suggest that many of these same issues will also strangle a marriage!  So, here are the tips, some of which are about individuals, others are about churches.  Follow these tips only if you want your church to close it’s doors.

Areas 1-12 refer to individual attitudes and behaviors

These first three have always been key issues for church life/growth:
1)  Use your Bible as a dust collector.
2)  Assume outreach and witnessing is somebody else's job.
3)  Pray only for your own needs, and certainly never for church leadership or the lost souls in our communities and the world.

These areas, though timeless, seem prevalent in many churches today.
4)  Participate in backbiting, gossip, criticism, nitpicking, and strife by speaking or listening to it…and so claim grumbling and murmuring as your spiritual gifts instead of focusing on the positive things in life and in your church.

5)  Value only the ministries and gifts that YOU like or benefit from, rather than the ones God chooses to bring for the betterment of the entire church.

6)  Develop a self centered focus, where you always ask what did I get out of it, instead of asking how it serves the greater kingdom of Christ.

7) Become suspicious and decide everybody else is working against you, rather than seeing fellow church members as varied parts of a single body of Christ working toward the common good of the kingdom.

8) Practice a pseudo Christianity where you have an appearance of godliness, but don't allow any real power to change your life or to work through you to change the lives of others.

9) Resist and quench any movement by the Spirit of God that causes people to become excited or emotional at God's touch upon them, or that causes them to step out in faith into new arenas of ministry.

10) Do everything you possibly can in your church….even if you only get the job half done….so that other people won't have to do anything.

11) Decide your church attendance based on convenience rather than commitment.

12) Choose to be a taker in your church, rather than a giver.

Both Individuals and Church bodies adopt these attitudes/behaviors in dying churches:

1) Find a plateau in your spiritual growth where you can be satisfied to dwell…you can also get satisfied in plateaus in your church's growth, too.

2) Focus on what you can't do, rather than what you could do… as individuals and as a church.

3) Place limits on what you are willing for God to do in you or through you or your church.

4) Make your decisions and operate out of fear and uncertainty, rather than faith, risk taking and boldness.

5) Go into any future God has kicking and screaming, rather than with enthusiasm, excitement and hope.

6) Ignore or refuse to act on the opportunities and challenges God places before you or before your church.

These attitudes are often adopted by dying church bodies:

1) Help create division by adopting an “us/them” mentality to describe all sorts of church interactions.

2) Develop a system that is power oriented and territorial rather than servant and humility oriented.

3) Become program and property centered, rather than people centered.

4) Adopt a "pastor as messiah or scapegoat" attitude, rather than examining issues the church body needs to face and deal with.

5) Have no spiritual vision or dreams for the kingdom, focusing instead only on how things used to be, or how they are, but never the possibilities that could be.

6) Set up barriers and hurdles to impede ministries, instead of empowering people to follow God's calling in their lives.

7) Develop a church mentality of maintaining and surviving, doing things in ways that are good enough to get by, rather than staffing and planning for growth or seeking all things in excellence.

8)  Ignore that the love chapter is addressed to churches, not married couples.

9)  Let die your heart for missions and desire to reach the lost.

There are churches with these attitudes that continue to exist, but the glory of God has already departed from them.  They have become nothing more than religious social clubs that do nothing in terms of discipleship, and their doors will eventually close….and they should….because they no longer fulfill the purposes for which God established his church.

Praying that your approaching Thanksgiving is giving you time to reflect and ponder.  Giving Thanksgiving in all things, even leaves on the ground.

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