Ask The Chaplain

Ask The Chaplain

Monday, March 24, 2008

3 Reasons Our Churches are Dying

“America has thousands of churches! There are some in Cathedrals, Small Chapels, Storefronts, Private Homes and Warehouses. Some of these churches are denominational and some are not, some are traditional and some are very unique, and finally some are growing and unfortunately MANY are DYING! There are a lot of churches, ministries, and Christian Centers that are on life support spiritually. Why? I believe the question is on the hearts and minds of many Pastors and church members, and the answer is available…BUT can we handle the TRUTH? The truth is something most Christians avoid like the plague! Why? I think we (Christians) would rather blame the devil for things that are really our fault and responsibility. Is the devil our enemy? Of course he is! But WE reap what WE sow. The church preaches a lot about sowing and reaping, especially when it comes to money and wealth. If you read the verses in Malachi about tithes, read carefully! It wasn’t the people that God was rebuking IT WAS THE PRIEST! They refused to help the widows and the fatherless (also a purpose of tithes!) But many churches lay this on the members and yet they don’t practice what they preach. Local churches are supposed to make an impact on the communities they are in by GIVING back, (Matt. 5:14-16) Sinners should have to even confess and admit that the Church makes a difference in this neighborhood! I want to give you ten answers to the QUESTION! “Why is my church dying?” Hold on to your hat’s the answers may shake up your traditional thinking…and make you THINK!”

Elder Mark H. Stevens
Dean, C.H. Mason Bible Institute
1st Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction NJ

ANSWER NUMBER ONE – “If the Pastor doesn’t emphasize evangelism and discipleship, YOUR CHURCH WILL DIE!”

I was in church one Sunday and one of the old Missionaries was leading the early Morning Prayer, she cried loud and shook the rafters as she prayed. She said at one point “Lord send the sinner man into this church!” It was uttered with the utmost sincerity and piety, but she was very much wrong! God doesn’t send sinners to church! He expects US to bring people to Jesus Christ! Jesus told His disciples to pray for laborers for the sole purpose of harvesting LOST SOULS! Too many pastors expect their churches to be like “magnets” and sinners will just come to church! We must invite sinners to Jesus first and foremost, and we must also invite people to our place of worship. It is not enough to have a nice edifice! Churches HAVE to aggressively share the Gospel of Jesus in their communities. This is the primary reason Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to the church, so we could preach the Gospel and make disciples (students). Too often pastors want everyone to embrace and support HIS vision, but he forgets that others vision (purpose) helps support the church as well. Every Pastor NEEDS an EVANGELIST in their church to bring people to Christ so the PASTOR can nurture them, The TEACHER make them disciples and helps them go from milk to meat. The PROPHET inspires people to press into the perfect will of God.
(Act 1:8; Luke 5:1-11; Matt. 28:18-20; John 14:26 and John 15:26)

ANSWER NUMBER TWO: “Holiness doesn’t mean isolation!”

One problem with man’s denominational teaching is that HOLINESS in many churches and groups means stay away from them sinners! The only way sinners can see Jesus Christ is through the Church (The Body of Christ). The local church is a part of the larger body of blood washed believers. Sinners can only see the light of Jesus Christ through US. Now I am not saying Christians should go to bars and nightclubs…BUT we do have to interact with sinners! Jesus went to places where people congregate. I remember many of my fellow preachers telling saints they shouldn’t go to bowling alleys, teens shouldn’t play sports, and saints don’t go swimming! These are in some people’s minds what “holiness” is all about! True holiness means we are set apart for God’s use and purposes. God’s highest purpose is that we influence people to accept Christ! I don’t think you can do that locked up in your church 7 days a week with black suits, long skirts, and doilies on your head! I used to witness on the streets of Song Tan City in Korea, there were nothing but bars, nightclubs, and whorehouses in this sin filled town. Many professed “Spirit-filled” Christians would warn me about going downtown. They would tell me it was dangerous and that there was too much temptation there. I believe the awesome power of the Holy Ghost is MORE than enough to protect us while we minister to sinners! I have led prostitutes, Moslems, drug addicts, and drunks to Jesus Christ in some pretty dangerous places. The Holy Spirit was given to us to insulate us from the World, much like an astronaut’s suit protects him on the Moon.
(Jude 24; Romans 8:28;John 15:1-4; John 15:26; John 16:5-9)

ANSWER NUMBER THREE: You are afraid of the long hair, dreadlocks, tattoos, and nose rings!

A great number of the youth of America today all have one of these four things in common! We traditional saints have got to get over it! I asked a group of ministers at a conference this question, “What would you do if a young man came to your church and professed his faith Jesus Christ, but had dreadlocks?” Well they frowned a little and said “dreadlocks!” My point is this, I am not a big fan of dreadlocks, but what does that have to do with a young man’s walk with Christ? We focus on the wrong thing sometimes. I know Christians with dreadlocks, long hair, and nose rings. And none of them belong to traditional churches! Why? Because they are not accepted! If Jesus accepted them, who are you to say, “You cannot be a Christian with a pony-tail!” I have a friend that used to be a Hell’s Angel biker; he is now a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He ministers primarily to other bikers. He still has long hair, tattooed arms, and yes he still rides a bike! The difference is that he has a new heart and renewed mind! God delivered him from drugs, sex, and alcohol! He doesn’t curse anymore! He reads the Word daily! And he prays more than many of my black suited fellow preachers. Unfortunately he would not accepted in many traditional churches. Jesus chose fisherman, zealots, prostitutes, lepers and tax collectors as disciples! These were not the cream of Israel’s spiritual crop! God doesn’t judge the outward appearance…He judges the heart.
(I Samuel 16:7)

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