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What happened to them?
More to the point – how can we avoid ending up like them? We don’t want to be a dead church! So, how do avoid their fate?
I have two observations:
1st – to avoid becoming like Sardis, you and I (as church members) need to maintain a high level of commitment. I believe part of the problem in Sardis was that its people had begun to compartmentalize church. In other words: they’d made a compartment in their lives for church, and they had other “compartments” for work/ friends/ TV & entertainment and so on. Church WASN’T the MOST IMPORTANT part of their lives. It was simply one of many parts of their lives.
Jesus told Sardis in Revelation 3:2 “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.” Their deeds were not complete – they’d lost their intensity in commitment.
Notice what happens with a church as it goes through it’s stages:
At the Movement Stage = a church has a nearly 100% involvement
At the Magnificence Stage = it has dropped to 50 to 75% involvement
But at the Monument Stage = (Sardis) 10 to 20% involvement
Now, I’m not sure how precise these %’s are – but they do point to a reality. The farther along a church is in these stages, the less involved it’s people are.
ILLUS: Halford Luccock noted in The Christian Century …"if the habits of that company in the Upper Room had been like the habits of multitudes in our churches today… The meeting was called for the 1st day of the week, but so many things interfered that of the company of 120, only 40 could be present. Peter and his wife had bought a cottage on Lake Galilee and were away from the hot city over the weekend. Bartholomew had guests and of course could not come. Philip and his family had been up late the night before and overslept. Andrew had a business conference about a new fishing boat. James had to stay at home and cut the grass…"
The Point IS: The more intense our church is – the less likely we are to be like Sardis. And that commitment has to come from every member here. Not just in attendance, but in a commitment to PERSONALLY make things happen for Jesus.
ILLUS: I once heard of a preacher in large church who addressed his congregation of several thousand “how many of you are involved, or want to become involved in some form of ministry for Jesus – stand up.” About 60 percent of the audience stood. Then the preacher said to those who were seated: “If you don’t intend to get involved with ministry – when you leave today, don’t come back.”
Can he say that? Well, he did, and he was right. There’s no excuse for any of us to just sit through church and not be involved in some form of ministry for Jesus. If you can do nothing else, you have the time to devote to intense prayer in support of your church, its teachers, preacher and youth ministry. Or in prayer for the many who are suffering from sickness or loss. You have no excuse for not doing some form of ministry for Jesus.
ILLUS: In my first ministry, I regularly visited a woman member who now lived in the nursing home. She had suffered a stroke that left the entire left side of her body useless. The left side of her face drooped and her left arm was useless. But, there were times when I visited that I found her bending over the portable table in her room (like the one they
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