Summary: The concluding message of the series on the Local Church.
An Effective Treatment
* Over the past couple of months we have been in a series of messages entitled; the local church, dead, dying, or dynamic. Think about it, which condition do you prefer for HBC? It is my belief that most, if not all of us desire this to be a Dynamic Church. However, our messages have focused on symptoms, diseases, and conditions which afflict the present day church. Atrophy, Myopia, Toxins, Arterioscleroses, hypochondria, & glossitis, are some of the diseases we have identified.
* The reason we have taken time to do this is because the truth about the church in America is not particularly good. The Local church which is the representative of our Lord on earth, and the hope of the world, has seemingly flat lined. Depending on whom you read, you’ll discover that the 60% - 90% of churches have plateaued or are presently in decline.
* It is in this environment that most congregations ask the same, “wrong” question, which is, “What can we do to grow?” This is like asking “what must I do to make my children grow?” Or “What must I do to make my flowers grow?” Or even “What must I do to make my pet grow?” Honestly, in every situation you and I know we simply “do” the normal things which are required to keep our pet, flowers, and children healthy. If we are able to maintain health, then growth will ensue. To realize this truth is to understand and correct a flawed mentality.
* I submit that the real question which we should be asking is: “What is keeping us, as a church, from growing?” This is a question a doctor would ask if your child stop growing at 5 years old, “What is it that is keeping him from growing?” Obviously it is a health issue. Now many of us have difficulty understanding this truth for many reasons. It is sad to say, but to organize and plan a church for “growth” was almost unheard of until the 1960’s, the 1970’s, and the 1980’s. Men like Donald McGavran, Peter Wagner, along with the Fuller Seminary gave birth to the “Church Growth Movement” which served and serves the church well until it focuses too much on programs and methods.
* The point of knowing these facts is this; most of us in the room already had our concept of “church” deeply imbedded in minds, when the church growth movement took it exploded on to the scene. At this point (for many) glossitis took over and we talked bad about it, while our arteriosclerosis was able to turn aside this new concept of organizing the church to welcome and receive new people, additionally, our atrophy kept us from action of any kind.
An Effective Treatment – Pg 2
* Let’s read our text. (Read) When I read this text along with the statements of Jesus, I am convinced that Jesus desires for His church to be growing. Did you hear all these statements about growth? The words grow and build is littered throughout the text. When we marry Paul’s words with the words of Jesus, we must conclude that both our Lord and His super-missionary conveyed the concept that we, as God’s redeemed, should be on task of sharing the gospel, discipling the saved, and thus, growing (or building) the Kingdom and the church.
* Yet in point of fact, inside the church you’ll hear the question, “Why should we grow?” or “Do we have to grow?” Or (worse yet) I like “MY” church the way we are, new people would just mess it up.
* I’ll submit that this can be a disease which we haven’t discussed; it is a disease of the blood. In our physical bodies, a disease of the blood affects every part of the body. For instance, an infection or cancer is bad, but when it gets into the blood, it can be deadly. Additionally, if your blood is not circulating properly, then it can affect how you think.
* Churches who are dynamic have several things in common
1. The use the Bible as their “medical manual”. When Pharmaceutical representatives are trained to talk with physicians about their drugs, they are schooled on talking about the “protocols” of dealing with the different diseases. These salesmen are taught from a manual as how best to treat the patients. Spiritually, when churches become infected with a disease the Bible gives a treatment plan. The dynamic church doggedly searches God’s word to restore health.
2. They believe that every malady is curable – The reason a church can become dynamic is because they know that whatever disease they may encounter, God has a remedy and a cure. I have read story after story where churches are held in stasis by one man or one family who is the carrier of disease. The dynamic church refuses to allow the family to be dwarfed by a disease which can be healed.