I have been praying about and researching the topic of church revitalization a great deal in recent months. There is a great need for revival in our country and there should be a sense of urgency and spiritual unrest felt by all Christians to reach out to this present generation and introduce them to our glorious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is sad that at a time such as this that so great a number of churches in our country are on the decline. Many are closing their doors or soon will be in the upcoming years unless a change takes place. As I talked to several pastors about the topic of church revitalization this year, many have made a similar statement, “There is nothing wrong with some churches that a few funerals wouldn’t fix.” Wow. What a sad commentary.
This sentiment comes from those who have witnessed or experienced firsthand attitudes and behaviors that fit in with what Jesus was describing in Mark 7:7-8 “BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ 8 “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
Many of our churches have become irrelevant to the current generation because they have embraced their own ways rather than the Lord’s will. They have failed to go out and seek after the lost in their community. They have failed to go out “into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that the Lord’s house may be filled.” Some churches have failed to find ways to engage and involve new generations with the Gospel. They are unwilling and unbending when it comes to trying to relate to and be relevant to generations that did not grow up in church and who did not grow up singing the same songs as we did. From what I have been told, some churches would not even consider contemporary songs even if it would save a soul. That is even sadder than the statement about “a few funerals.” After all, we are singing about the same Jesus.
Is there anything wrong with tradition? In and of itself, no. But as Christ pointed out, we have to be careful not to neglect His commands as we still cherish our traditions. Anytime we do what we want to do rather than what God wants us to do we are engaging in sin. Anything that we give priority over the Lord and His will becomes an idol. It can be easy for us to place our emphasis on the order of our worship rather than the object of our worship. It can be easy for us to place our emphasis on the kind of our music rather than the King of our music. We must learn to become mission minded Christians rather than preference minded Christians. We must place the mission of the Church over and above our preferences about the church. I am sure that when Jesus jumped in Simon’s boat and pushed out from the shore to preach to the crowd that some muttered to themselves, “That is not how you teach God’s word.” Oh, they were wrong. There was nothing wrong with His means or His method. The Lord simply desired to do a new thing and reach more people with His word.
When I hear the statement, “There is nothing wrong with some churches that a few funerals wouldn’t fix” I have to agree. As Christians, we need to die to self. We need to need to deny our desires and preferences and seek the desires and preferences of the Lord. We need to pray for the churches and pastors in this country and around the world. We need to be mission minded and seek and serve our Lord. To Him be the glory and honor forever and ever, amen. Until next time, stay strong in the faith.