Summary: A series of Wednesday evening messages based on the book, "Why Churches Die" by Dr. Brunson & Dr. Caner. Truly interesting study!
The Local Church
Is it Dead, Dying, or Dynamic?
Part 1 – “The Examination”
* Several years ago I read a book co-authored by Dr. Mac Brunson (Pastor of FBC, Jacksonville, FL) and Dr. Ergun Caner (President and Dean of Liberty Baptist Seminary). The book was entitled “Why Churches Die?” Have you ever considered the fact that local churches are dying? Look around us and see. In our area, over the past 10 years how many churches have closed their doors, merge, and/or disbanded? Furthermore, how many local fellowships are ‘holding on’ by the skin of their teeth? I do not say this to cast stone but rather to sober us to the stunning reality that the local congregation (by and large) seems to be dying if not dead.
* Why do I personally believe this? Because the average church depends are not really in the business of making disciples. For growth, they depend on generational growth and candidly, the death rate exceeds the birthrate for believers. Yet, consider the church which Jesus came for.
* Isn’t the church the Bride, Body, and Building of Christ and doesn’t He say, that HE will build His church? So, did Jesus get out of the construction business? Did He break off the engagement? Has He abandoned His own body? What has happened? I have another question.
* Why is it that at the same time people seem to be thinking more about their spiritual lives than they have in YEARS that the “local church” is not considered an option for those answers? And so, the local church seems to be dying or is already spiritually dead.
* Over the next weeks, I want to offer us some sobering thoughts on this subject. Let’s begin by reading (and being reminded of) Jesus’ first words about His church. (Read Text) I submit we might need to spend some time simply hovering over this passage of scripture to discover the divine power, purpose, and priority for the local church. However, that’ll have to wait.
* The picture of the model church seems to be given to us in Acts 2. Candidly, we need to read the entire chapter to get the picture, but let me give the “cliff notes” on it. They entire church (120 people) were together praying and seeking God when the Spirit of God fell with a tremendous sound (compare it to a tornado). Supernatural things began to take place and the entire town came to see what was happening. Here’s the part we Baptist don’t care for: The filling of the Holy Spirit impacted these people so drastically that the community accused them of being intoxicated (though it was 9am). This interaction gave Peter the opportunity to stand and preach the word. After He preached, He didn’t extend an invitation, but they were so impacted the anointing of the Spirit that they asked, “What must we do?”
* The result was that those 120 believers, working together, assisted some 3000 in coming to faith. Now, let’s pick up in verse 42 and following.
* Consider this; the Lord led this group of people to this church for a divine purpose and He used a people who were unschooled but not unspiritual. How different is the church game today?
* Consider this story in 3 parts; A young couple with a couple of preschool children come into a town and decide to find a church home. As soon as they walk into the first church they wife smiles with satisfaction as they hear the sounds of the organ. She loves the organ. They have notice that the property is well maintained and the older gentleman who hands them a bulletin is super friendly. UNTIL—they ask about the nursery. We don’t have one. We couldn’t get anyone to stay with the kids; it cost too much money, and stayed in a mess, so we closed it down years ago. STRIKE ONE.
* So not to be deterred, the young couple visits a second church. This church was about as friendly as they as ever seen. The nursery was alive and vibrant with children and the walls, painted with animals, said to the newcomers, “We love our kids and want you.” Sunday school was good. The service flowed so well and was so inspirational. The words were projected high on a screen and both husband and wife were deeply moved by the worship even before the pastor stood to preach. There was only was problem; obviously, they had sat in the section with the “church winers”. The only thing louder than the singing was the complaining. So the couple decided, “A divided congregation”, this isn’t for us. STRIKE TWO.
* The young couple is now a little disheartened so they decide to visit a little smaller church. This was good. The nursery was smaller, but very good. The worker was very helpful to them in finding their way around the building. The service, while not as inspiring as the last church was certainly good. Then the pastor spoke and was very fervent and Biblical. Wow, could this be it? When the service was over it was time for the quarterly business meeting. The treasurer quickly passed out the reports and discussed the finances and all seemed to go well UNTIL; NEW BUSINESS! An argument broke out over a line item for the mowing of the church-yard. The discussion grew into a debate and resulted in a heated argument, any warmth which the fellowship might have exuded, was now gone. STRKE THREE.