Summary: A study on the 7 model churches as described by Jesus in the book of Revelation. Learn why the church is so important, and your part in what He’s up to in these last days.

How to Be a Vibrant Church

Series: Will the Real Church Please Stand Up?

October 8, 2006

READ Rev.3:1-6

The ache in the chest wasn’t particularly bad. It wasn’t the fierce, crushing pain that usually signals a heart attack, (like in the movies)… but it was bad enough to wake me up from a deep sleep. I rolled over and looked at the dial on the clock next to my bed. It was exactly 4 a.m. I tried to forget about the pain and go back to sleep, but a few minutes later I was sitting on the edge of the bed, wishing I could burp! I got out of bed and went downstairs for a soda. “It was probably indigestion”, I told myself. A soda would make me burp and, when it did, the ache would go away, and I could go back to sleep.

Standing in the darkened kitchen, in the light of the opened refrigerator, I drank a whole bottle of soda and then burped. But the pain in my chest didn’t go away. I squeezed my chest muscles with my hand and moved my arms up and down, hoping it was just muscle pain. But the ache in the center of my chest wasn’t affected at all. I was getting increasingly worried, as I went upstairs and lay down in bed… but sleep was impossible. It was now 5:30 a.m., the loneliest hour of my life. I didn’t want to wake my wife, afraid that it was all a false alarm. Still, I knew what I had to do. “If you have chest pain, Dial 911 and ask for fire rescue” Right?.

Skilled paramedics will reach your door in 4-5 minutes. They’ll place monitoring electrodes on your chest. If you go into shock, they have drugs and equipment to revive you and keep you alive until you get to the hospital. Rich or poor, if you’re having a heart attack it’s the best way to go to the hospital. But it seemed silly for a big red truck to blare and flash to a screeching halt in front of my house at 6:30 in the morning…just because I had to burp! So I drove myself to the hospital.” When he finally made it to the emergency room… Donald Drakes suspicions were confirmed. At 45, he had what we all fear… a heart attack!

A heart attack occurs when the heart muscle is damaged because blood is being blocked from reaching it. Fatty deposits build up on the inside of blood vessels and reduce the flow of oxygen to the heart. As a result part of the heart muscle dies. Now because blockages can occur in any number of coronary arteries, a heart attack can happen at any time and without any warning. One of our own loved members can testify to that fact, isn’t that right Donelda?

The bible says that the ‘church’ is the living, breathing, BODY of Christ, and in Rev.2-3 Jesus comes to His church and points out not only it’s strengths, but it’s weaknesses. Today, it’s “Jesus, M.D.”, because the Church at Sardis was having a heart attack, and they needed attention STAT! (in case you didn’t know, that’s emergency room lingo for ‘we better burn rubber”!) When Jesus shows up it’s almost too late…He says in vs. 1 of Rev.3…“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. “

Jesus arrives on the scene, he checks Sardis out and announces… “You’re DOA!” (dead on arrival). I’d say that’s a pretty dangerous position for a church to be in wouldn’t you?

· Ephesus was the “Busy Church”

· Smyrna was the “Persecuted Church”

· Pergamum was the “Compromising Church”

· Thyatira was the “Tolerating Church”…

But Sardis was in the most serious condition of all! They’re the DEAD Church! Plaque had been building up on it’s blood vessels for so long… that the life giving oxygen of the Spirit had been choked off… and they DIED! But it hadn’t always been that way… see, Sardis had a “reputation for being alive”! In otherwords, there’d been a time in this churches history when all the valves were pumping!

This was a church that was known for it’s outreach to the poor, it’s life-saving programs, it’s vibrant worship, the faith of it’s members… but something happened. Instead of moving forward, forging new spiritual territory… they’d gotten comfortable, content…lazy! They’d become “Couch Potatoes for Jesus”. After all, they’d done their part! Now…

· programs were more important than a fresh love for their Lord.

· traditions were more important than life change, and

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