Friday, July 19, 2013

When a Church Becomes an Island of Deadness

Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.  Behold, I will DO SOMETHING NEW….” (Isaiah 43:18-19).

God is in the new.   At least nine times the Bible says to sing a new song to the Lord.  God gives us the new covenant, the new birth, a new name, the new man, new wine, a new heart, a new spirit, a new creation, a new commandment, and new tongues. Eventually He will create a new heaven, a new earth, and a New Jerusalem.  Wow! That’s a lot of new stuff!

Let me tell you a true story.  It’s very sad.

A couple named Joe and Janet have left their church.

This is the kind of couple any pastor would want in his flock.  They are young parents, have a beautiful family, are committed, talented, and sharper than me and you combined.  They have a heart for serving, a willingness to hang in there when things go bad, and are submissive to their leaders even when they disagree.  And they tithe.

But after years of frustration in their church – a congregation that is dead-set on dying, even though this church exists in a thriving community – Joe and Janet finally feel released by the Lord to find themselves another church.

They arrived at PCC.

I hate it for their church.  But the decision-makers brought it on themselves by refusing to connect with the community to reach other young couples, and by their commitment to yesteryear.  They’re still living in the Eisenhower years.

The people responsible for stripping away everything new, fresh, inspiring, and alive did so because they thought everyone else wanted it that way too.  But in the end they lost Joe and Janet - a real asset - and many others like them.  Now this church is dull and dying.

This is what happens when non-leaders call the shots, when decision-makers operate from fear rather than faith, and no one bothers to ask the Lord – the One who said He would “build My Church” – what HE wants.

The surest way to choke off all the life in a church is to poll the congregation. 

By asking church people what they want and don’t want, and then concocting programs, ministries, and worship services to fit the findings, you end up catering to the loudest voices, caving in to the most insistent, and stooping the lowest common denominator.

And that’s how churches become islands of deadness and dullness in the midst of a thriving community populated with troubled, hungry, needy, hurting, and responsive families and singles with children.

A vocal few in many congregations often complain that young people are “taking over” their church.  Others complain that the church is getting too worldly because of the musical style or electric guitars.  And so, the Eisenhower lovers carry the day.  And the leaders sit back and let them.

At Pace Community Church it’s completely different.  The majority of people are thrilled.  Even the senior adults (including those in their 70s & 80s) love it.  They don’t complain about young people taking over because those young people are their children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews who are active in church and serving the Lord.  They are so happy to see new people entering the church too because it means we have a strong and assured future.

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