Many churches in North America are declining and aging—the median age of the members is rising. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a church consultant to see the handwriting on the wall!
What is the issue? Some of it is pride. Some is an unwillingness to accept reality—an avoidance reaction, perhaps wishful and unrealistic thinking. Some of it is apathy, with a large dose of fear.
Look at Ephesians 6, a chapter of good advice for churches. In verse 13, Paul says, “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own.” He continues, “Take all the help you can get.” What does Paul do, what does he say, through the message of verses 13-18? He provides diagnosis and then prescription. He also encourages the church—every church and every Christian—to use the weapons God gives. They are not guns or knives. They do not include church politics. They don’t even include popular programs!
Paul says that these are God’s weapons for the local church: (1) “Truth” is listed first, and later as “God’s Word, an indispensable weapon.” Think about it: Does your church look like the Scripture’s description of a church and what it should look like? Do the people in your church know the Word of God well enough to apply it to every single thing you do, as church?
(2) Second on Paul’s list is righteousness—a passion to always do what’s right, whether it’s “popular” or not. This is followed by (3) peace. Is that the way you would describe your church meetings, conversations, denomination? Peace is not just a goal; it is an active element—a weapon to use!
(4) Next is faith. Do you weaponize faith? When people disagree or become disagreeable, do you ask them what they really believe? Do their actions demonstrate biblical faith in the promises and guidance of Jesus and God’s Word?
(5) Fifth is “salvation.” Does your salvation and the salvation of others really, honestly drive everything you do? This is a mission-level weapon!
Paul then summarizes: (6) God’s Word is indispensable. You can’t change it, and you’d better not mess with it. Any church or denomination that tries to do so is going down the ecclesiastical toilet. Look at history—it’s true!
Paul ends with one more weapon that is indispensable: (7) prayer. So, do you argue, or pray? Vote, or pray? Pursue politics, or prayer? You can’t do spiritual warfare without prayer.
Scripture just described your personal, corporate, divine arsenal. Are you ready to fight?