Summary: We can get all mixed up in our sense of values. This is true especially in the church, where we tend to value those things that are not really important to God.
Our Second Mail
“Check Your Engines”
Revelation 2:8-11; 3:7-13
Meet Two “Below Average” Churches
1. They have lots of FINANCIAL problems.
9 I know your afflictions and your poverty…
2. They have lots of EMOTIONAL problems.
9 I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
3. They have lots of PHYSICAL problems.
10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days…
4. They have lots of SPIRITUAL problems.
8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
IS THIS YOUR (MY) CHURCH?
1. Christian Schwarz, head of the institute for Church Development in Germany, conducted reportedly the most comprehensive church-growth study ever, drawn from more than one thousand churches in thirty-two countries. His study revealed eight qualities in healthy churches. (These eight qualities are now considered the basis for the NCD, i.e. Natural Church Development)
a. EMPOWERING LEADERSHIP – the more leaders, the better
b. GIFT-ORIENTED MINISTRY – people serve where they are really gifted
c. PASSIONATE SPIRITUALITY – people are on fire for the Lord
d. FUNCTIONAL STRUCTURES – the structure helps rather than impedes ministry
e. INSPIRING WORSHIP SERVICES – people experience the presence of God
f. HOLISTIC SMALL GROUPS – people can connect with each other
g. NEED-ORIENTED EVANGELISM – meeting the needs of unbelievers
h. LOVING RELATIONSHIPS – genuine love for one another
2. As if these are not enough to discourage us, C. Peter Wagner even came up with the idea of “Nine Church Diseases.”
a. ETHNIKITIS – a static church in an ethnically transitioning neighborhood
b. GHOST-TOWN DISEASES – old residents are moving out; no one is moving in (and the church is not even noticing it)
c. PEOPLE-BLINDNESS – can’t see the people (where are they?) or we don’t want those kinds of people here!
d. HYPER-COOPERATIVISM – let’s do everything together and make big sound (kaboom!) but let’s not worry about actual results!
e. KOINONITIS – let’s focus on ourselves (and our good feelings for each other) because that’s the most important thing
f. SOCIOLOGICAL STRANGULATION – where can we put all these people? Besides we might lose our intimacy!
g. ARRESTED SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT – we’re not a small church; we’re small people (spiritually speaking)
h. ST. JOHN’S SYNDROME – going through the motions, pretending to be real
i. HYPOPNEUMIA – where is the Holy Spirit here? Have you seen Him?
3. Measured based on these standards, does your (my) church look healthy enough?
4. I see two problems here…
a. The UNREALISTIC IDEAL – get the best qualities from all the different churches and apply them to your church
b. The FATALISTIC WEAKNESS – identify one or more weaknesses and feel sorry for yourself because you’re doomed
“All our churches have WEAKNESSES!”
WHAT DOES JESUS SAY ABOUT OUR “WEAKNESSES?”
1. He KNOWS it.
8 "To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9 I know your afflictions and your poverty…
2. He sees it DIFFERENTLY.
9 I know your afflictions and your poverty -- yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
3. He wants us to STAY in it.
10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
4. He can WORK in and through us in spite of it.
7 "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
5. He will VINDICATE us because of it.