These five signposts will tell you how to bring your church new strength.
Rediscover your purpose
Searching for the purpose Christ has for your church can counter the seemingly inevitable slide toward spiritual entropy.
One of the most observable principles of physics is the law of entropy, which states that things left to themselves will degenerate and become useless. Unfortunately, the Church as an institution has historically been a reliable place to observe this law in action. For example, a telling passage in 2 Kings 22 highlights the "spiritual entropy" that plagued the Israelites throughout the Old Testament. In this chapter, we find the Temple in disrepair—literally falling apart to the degree that young King Josiah imports new stones and timber for its restoration.
However, in the middle of the rebuilding project, an amazing discovery is made: the Book of the Law of God.
Apparently the religious leaders of the time had kept the day-to-day activities of the Temple running while the Living Word of God collected dust on some obscure shelf—unused and forgotten. In other words, the residents of Jerusalem had continued to observe the ceremonies and traditions of worship without even knowing why they were doing it. They had lost their purpose.
Sadly, many of today's churches are experiencing a similar situation. No longer rooted in the Great Commission, they have gradually succumbed to the attacks of entropy and have fallen into a rut of useless activity. These attacks—so often unseen and unfelt— come from a wide variety of sources, but the following are among the most common:
- Satan. The Great Commission embodies all that Satan hates and fears and so he will do everything in his power to destroy a Kingdom Lighthouse. Using the pride, fear and greed of individuals, he subtly bends the focus of a congregation inward, until it can only see itself.
- Division. The interests, experiences and cultural views of individual members, while positive for a congregation in terms of diversity, will hollow it out from the inside if there is no unifying purpose.
- Sin. When it is not dealt with biblically, the sin of individuals—especially church leaders—will tarnish the "light of the world" until it is cold, and dim and ineffective.
These are the forces that eroded the nation of Israel and are still at work today. However, the good news is that these forces are not insurmountable. The discovery of the Book of the Law in 2 Kings led to a renewed sense of purpose and a nationwide revival. And a reinvigorated focus on the Great Commission can provide any church with a worthwhile purpose—to go and reach its community with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Return to the Original Vision
Take an active step by reshaping your original purpose into clear, compelling words that can be adopted and applied by all.
Have you ever experienced a "self-service" church? On the outside, these types of churches are hard to distinguish from other churches unless you know what to look for: a lack of fruit. These churches seek out volunteers, raise money and sponsor activities; but it seems as if their only goal in going through these motions today is to ensure that they will be able to go through them again tomorrow. In other words, their sole purpose for engaging in Christianity is to further the cause of Christianity, not to further the cause of God and bring Him glory through fulfilling His Great Commission.
The transition from a Kingdom Lighthouse into a self-service institution usually takes time and is rooted in a disconnect between the original vision of the founders and the everyday lives of the current members.