Summary: A comparison of the Lack in the Churches of Revelation to the Churches of Today
Are our Churches in America asleep or indifferent and why are some wasting away while others flourishing? Is it Apathy or Ignorance? Scripture says: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” Hosea 4:4 KJV
I have read so many commentaries lately on just this subject lately and have gleaned many perspectives. It would appear that many place the blame or lack of participation on the congregation but truth is; it is really the lack of leadership in today's churches that has stagnated vigorous growth. Most of the work is being carried out by the pastors, some of whom compromise, water-down or distort The Word of God. They appear to have little back-up participation causing them an extreme depressive overload. In those churches, who do have leadership, it appears the same few are endlessly carrying out activities while bordering on Burnout. I have heard it said that the church “rises and falls” on leadership, just as with government. Is it the fault of the Leadership or the fault of apathetic people?
Who goes to Church these days? The passion of church attendance has been lost, Religion has become irrelevant and superfluous to a relationship with Christ. It would appear that worldly activities take precedence (Sunday sports, parties, barbecues, etc.). Sadly,some do so only out of obligation.
My heart was saddened as I drove to service this beautiful brisk fall morning only to notice the parking lot of a local bar/restaurant was packed, had it anything to do with the fact that it was November 1st? Unfortunately ours was not. Hebrews 10:25 AMP says: “not forsaking our meeting together [as believers for worship and instruction], as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more [faithfully] as you see the day [of Christ’s return] approaching”. Here’s the Church, here is the steeple, open the doors, where are all the people? It is my stance that responsibility is two-fold, upon church leaders and church attendees. The model for the ‘True Church’ comes from The Word of God.
The New Testament church was ground breaking, spontaneous, full of life and life-changing. Comparing the “Acts of the Apostles” with the church that we see in America today, explains why the early church was so powerful and life-changing and how that effect has been lost over the course of church history. Currently our churches are now scripted, predictable, highly-polished, entertaining, but rarely life-changing!
Imagine if you will, Jesus Christ walking past your church building. Hearing the piano playing softly, He decides to step inside the church’s entryway to take a look. Would your church hold up to His standards? We see a multifaceted pattern of church options today, denomination- traditional, evangelical, charismatic, full gospel, Pentecostal, liberal, conservative, freewill, “spirit-led,” or transformed. Millions of Christians attending thousands of these different divisions. Denominations within denominations and Non-denominational.
With all these possibilities, how does today’s church goer choose? Is it through appeal desirability, location? Is it their beliefs, purpose, or goals? Or is it the many activities or programs? Which Church would Jesus choose and would he feel welcome? Searching through just one city, He might be presented with a myriad of different options all claiming to represent Him. He would expect them, of course, to have His appointed ministers, called and chosen who will of course profess His teachings, worship Him, teach His Word, demonstrate love, and exhibit obedience. Therefore, whatever Christ taught the original apostles, He would expect to find in His Church. Yet many today, have conflicting doctrines. The church may have changed its expectations but he has not! Heb. 13:8 “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” He has not changed, His expectations have not changed.”
I reminded of a story I once heard which I will try to paraphrase for you. Suppose Jesus entered in to your town this Sunday morning. Imagine Him entering into a church vestibule, tracts laid out on a table catches His eye. One is titled, Which Church Saves? and the text reads, “The Christian Church is divided into numerous denominations, there may be alteration in how each church worships or operates, but they are unified in the belief of profession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.” I imagine He agonizes as He recalls His Word, Matt. 16:18 “I will build my church” not churches! I can see Him shaking His head, HE LEAVES.
Continuing on………Jesus notices a church tower named for an apostle, intrigued, He enters, passes a Library and entering in browses through a book explaining the church’s catechism and hierarchical government. Is it possible that He thinks, this church understands there is only one true church, Matt. 16:18, “And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”