Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The church is sick and dying. Here's what you can do about it ...

When I used to train people in the gym as a Personal Trainer, it wasn't uncommon for a 50-something to come into the gym and, with a sincerely grave concern, share their health woes and the necessity to get fit before serious illness overcomes them.

Part of their story was that up until that time, they did whatever they wanted to do. They ate what the wanted to eat, as much as they wanted to eat, whenever they wanted to eat, and indulged in comfort without exercise. Their history up until then (perhaps excluding some sports in high school) was one of not being good stewards of their bodies. Now, they had to radically change that or face serious consequences to their health.

What that meant for these people was a much tougher fight to get fit. They had more to accomplish than they would have if they would have taken a little better care of themselves.

The Western Church today is in a very similar predicament.

We have played at church and failed to be faithful children of God. The Gospel has been absent from many of our pulpits for decades, and many preachers still mislead their congregations by urging them to embrace the lost culture rather than engage it for Christ. Most churches don't do anything to equip true followers of Christ in how to share the Gospel with non-Christians, and still aren't interested in doing that. And studies tell us most people professing to be Christians will never share their faith with anyone ... ever!

We have become ashamed of the Gospel and we have failed to carry out Christ's commission to His church to make disciples.

Not "grow" the church, or even plant churches, but MAKE DISCIPLES.

And we have failed --- almost utterly so --- to be the ambassadors for Christ that God expects each one of us to be.

Now we are seeing the results of our failure. Now we're in a situation where the Church must take radical action or our spiritual health will be ruined. Many churches in America are already in the throes of death, and more will be if we don't change things.

How can we affect change?

First, don't look to someone else to make this change happen. It's not someone else's responsibility, it begins with YOU and me. YOU must take responsibility to be completely surrendered and fully obedient to Jesus Christ. We've gone too long watching the church suffer and fade, all the while hoping someone else will fix it. Now YOU need to take up your own cross on a daily basis and follow Jesus.

Part of this first step is learning to once again CARE! Tragically, the love of Christ has been a key missing element within His Church, and that must change. We have to learn to care about others more than ourselves, and live out Christ's foremost commands of loving God completely and above any and all else, and then loving our neighbors as ourselves. We have to start actually doing this rather than just talk about and intellectually agree to it.

Second, you need to get equipped to be able to share the Gospel effectively with non-Christians, and leaders need to meet their responsibility to provide this training (Eph. 4:11-12).

Third, every Christian needs to be the ambassador God has called them to be (2 Cor. 5:18-20). God has given to US the ministry of reconciling people to Him, along with a message of reconciliation (the Gospel), and His plan is to make His appeal through us. Failure to offer yourself as an equipped ambassador of Jesus Christ shuts off a key source for God making His appeal to the lost. That must change for the church to revive. The lost, broken world will not be saved by inviting it to church. Instead of having the majority of our efforts be focused on trying to get spiritually dead people to come to church --- the one place they aren't interested in being --- we must GO INTO THE WORLD and make disciples (being obedient to Christ's command to His Church!). Doing that will eventually fill our churches and create demand for many more new churches.

The church isn't just fat and out-of-shape.

The church isn't just sick.

Many churches are DYING.

Many more will unless we take these steps to become the children of God and ambassadors for Christ that we should have been all along.

Let me offer you some help in a key area. Here is a link for a great opportunity to become equipped to be a highly effective disciple-maker. It's a means of providing you with the training you need as Christ's ambassador.

All of us who call ourselves Christians need to be taking these steps to do our part in making the Church the living, thriving body of Christ that our King desires it to be. Are you willing to do YOUR part?

Scotty

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