Why do you think so many churches are declining? Why does this powerful faith sometimes look so impotent? How is it that the Christian faith, once the dominant influence in society, can become marginalized to the sidelines of life by so many?
The answer is not so simple. Yet, at the causative level, it can be summed up as subtle, but devastatingly spiritual drift. Here are a few examples: Jesus died so people could live. The central and powerful message of the Gospel finds its center on salvation. Yet, many church people are busy with peripheral issues. While John 3:16 is the central topic, in reality it is buried in the peripheral priorities of so many churches.
Another area of drift is the secularization of key biblical strategies. For example, the Scripture says that church leaders equip all the Christians in the church for the work of ministry. Yet, for many churches—and church members—the staff does real ministry, and the priesthood of believers is buried in activities that are not focused on the key elements of salvation. Further, spiritual gifts are God’s way of defining where each Christian is called to serve. This biblical concept is buried in the church closet by the secular approach of volunteerism.
What is the real issue behind the issue? Paul’s instructions to young Pastor Timothy, in 2 Timothy 4, are basic. Paul reminds this pastor that God Himself is “looking over your shoulder. Christ Himself is the Judge—having the final say on everyone…” (verse 1).
In verses 2-5, the apostle gets specific. He says, “…proclaim the Message with intensity.” He continues, “Challenge, warn, and urge your people.”
This is not as easy as it sounds. Why? If you tell it like it is, some people will leave the church. It is clear that Paul gets that! He confesses, in verses 3-5, “…there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy.”
Paul sums up: “Keep the Message alive….”
What an interesting comment! Jesus is the Message in the flesh—and they couldn’t kill Him! Yet, you and I can kill the power of the Gospel. Now that’s a scary thought! And it should be. Nothing can stop the powerful movement of the Christian faith: not the enemy, not sin, not philosophies or secularism. Yet, church people can. How? By reducing the truths of the Gospel—of Scripture—by neglect or by watering down the truth. It’s a scary thought, isn’t it? So, do you “proclaim the Message with intensity”?