Summary: Contentment has the power to destroy.
BEWARE OF CONTENTMENT
* When God called me to preach, Dr. Ted Traylor (whom I view as my preaching mentor) introduced me to the writings of George Barna. The first book of his that I read was entitled, “The Frog in the Kettle.” Through data gained from surveying, George compared our nation to the picture of what our 9th grade science teachers taught us: Put a frog in hot water and he will jump out. However, put a frog in water that is room temperature then gradually heat the water and the frog will die unaware that his surroundings have changed.” I will call this contented until death. The Bible warns about this.
* The story has long been told of the three elderly pastors who were comparing notes. The first one said, “I pastured on 3 churches in 41 years.” The second one said, “I only pastured 2 churches in 39 years. The third chimed in, “I pastured 3 church in 45 years and stayed with everyone of them until they were dead and gone.”
* On Wednesday evenings, we are teaching a series of messages entitled, “The Local Church—Dead, Dying, or Dynamic?” The question “Why do churches die?” is of upmost importance. While a number of reasons exist, I submit that contentment would be one of the main causes in the local church.
* Now contentment is not always bad as there are some things we should be content with and about. We should find contentment in our Salvation and with the Security from that salvation.
* However, contentment does play a big role in death of many things. In sales or business, get content with your present customer base and little by little, you see your business go down. In sports, let a coach get satisfied with the production of his players and they’ll start losing. In a church, the same thing happens.
* When people get content with their church (I.E. we have enough people, MY class is large enough, this feels too good, etc) and then decide to sit on the Premises & soak up the Promises; we forsake the higher ground where God is calling up to go. Jesus was never contented with the crowds because HE knew that of the crowd only a handful were seriously committed. In fact, only 120 were committed enough to return to the prayer meeting after the resurrection.
* Tonight we have read about the Children of Israel preparing to enter Canaan, the land of promise. They had taken census to establish army size as they got ready for battle. The sons of Gad and Reuben had come to Moses (and the leadership) to say this, “We like it here. We content here. God may want us to go across the Jordan, but we believe it’s easier and just as good on this side so we want to stay here.” Ultimately, Moses allowed them to stay but not without requiring them to do their share of the fighting.
* May I suggest that when God’s people get content where they are, with the people who have been reached, and generally with ministry, that we fail God? I’ll offer 3 liabilities of Contentment within church:
1. CONTENTMENT LIMITS EXPANSION – Some in this room may not think this is a problem but I remind you of the words of Jesus. When He says, “I will build (construct) my church” He is speaking of an ongoing, never-ending process of which He has commanded us to be involved. Think about this; every business in the world is about expanding. Whether they sell one item or 1 million items they want to expand. Have you given any thought to why this is true? The more skeptical people will say, “To make money.” Admittedly, that is one reason, but I’ll submit that the larger reason is because they believe they do the best, do it best, and want to give the best to their customers. So they seek ways to improve what they do.
* Had the children of Israel listened to this crowd (once again), they would have never possessed what God wanted them to have. They would have not known what it was to cross Jordan, see God’s hand, & dwell in Canaan.
* Let me suggest 2 obvious things contentment does to the Local Church
a) Limits spiritual Growth – There is no place in the life of a Believer to think He’s arrived, to become satisfied, to stop his growth. And yet, contentment will develop in us the thinking that we need nothing, so we will do nothing and our spiritual life will dwarf. Jesus says, “Seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness and then everything else will follow.” This speaks of actively following our Lord.
b) Limits Church Growth – Now, I am talking about the “Local Church." When attitudes are expressed in phrases like; “I like the way things are,” or “I want to keep our church small, or even “We are better off than most churches”, you’ll discover they’ll be no need to worry about such nasty problems and parking problems, Sunday School space shortage, nowhere to sit in the service, and heaven forbid “two services.” Contentment tells us we are fine and done need to worry about reaching people. I can give you a firsthand story of how this works out. In my first pastorate, the church had been dying for a number of years. When Deb and I arrived we began the uphill battle of reaching new people, we were able to reach new people. But these new people got excited about the Lord, came into the church, and generally left inside of 6 months because of the complacency they witnessed. Some went to congregations who were “Alive” while others became disheartened with the church. Today, that church no longer exists. Why? The pastor who followed me was told, “Preacher we like things like they are. We are not interested in doing much to reach new folks.” At least, this lady was honest.