Churches are closing at a rapid pace today. churchleadership.org tells us that we plant 1000 churches each year and CLOSE 4000!! With an exploding population, we are headed in the wrong direction. Sadly, because of our ‘affluence’ (in other words, ‘money in the bank’) the average church does not recognize and has not come to grips with just how close they could be to closing.
In the past few weeks I have spoken with several pastors who are scratching their heads about things like ‘finances and attendance.’ These are good and godly men who spend time with God everyday and are attempting to lead their churches to become God’s outpost for gospel witnessing, soul winning, and disciple making. Yet, when one digs deep in those church fellowships, there exist a spiritual disconnect which is almost like a ‘bad business plan’ (okay, bad analogy – but it will have to do). God nor His word never changes – ah, that would be never, ever, ever, etc!! That said, we must speak the language of our culture to offer those wonderful words of life – “IF” we expect the people who make up this culture to respond. This means the church MUST CHANGE THEIR PHILOSOPHY WITHOUT CHANGING THEIR PURPOSE (or if you like it better – their message). Let me illustrate.
I live in an agricultural area. A couple of weeks ago I saw "SEVEN TRACTORS" in one large field. WOW!! I was impressed!!! SEVEN TRACTORS!! – and they needed every one of them because the field was so big. The owners of this property made the outlay for these John Deer Tractors with one purpose in mind – TO BRING IN A BIGGER AND BETTER HARVEST!! This has been the goal of every farmer who has ever broken a piece of ground! However, the advent of the ‘tractor’ is a relatively new invention. It’s one of those ‘new-fangled’ things.
If we could step back in a time machine about 100 or 150 and take a look at how this same field would be broken up, laid by, and planted back then, you would likely see horses, mulls, plows, and the like. Quite likely, that large acreage could not be handled in such a way. Those ‘new-fangled’ things allow for more productivity and possibly a better harvest. (By the way, if we don’t like the farming illustration – how many would like to ditch their washer, dryer, dish washer, ovens (self-cleaning), or how about ‘disposable diapers and return to the old ways?)
At least 2 things seem a little odds to me. First, why is it that people my age and older are so reluctant to & resistance to this thing of ‘change’. I heard one preacher say that “People aren’t afraid of change, but are afraid of loss.” While I get this, I’m not sure I understand how our theology is harmed when we only adjust a philosophy. Paul said, “I have become ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE that I BY ALL MEANS might save some.” Secondly, why does change work in every other phase of our lives BUT the church?
NOW – To Bro. Thom. Please hit this link and take 3 minutes to read his blog. He writes it to the “URGENT CHURCH”….Never has there been a time that is more URGENT for the church than today. We do this for our posterity, our children, our grand-children, and on and on…BUT we do it for the sake of the gospel and the Kingdom of our Lord.
Dr. Thom Rainer