Summary: A sermon that discusses why most churches are failing in their walk with the Lord. We tend to walk about with a spirit of timidity rather than a spirit of boldness.
Back in the first part of the last century, Cumberland College of Kentucky was playing football with a rival, and they were absolutely outclassed. They were losing miserably and the opposing team was bigger, stronger, and more intimidating than they were. One of their players fumbled the ball, and yelled out to one of his teammates to get it, but the reply was, “You get it, you dropped it!”
God is looking for some Christians and even some churches that are willing to pick up the ball that others have dropped and start running with it. Nobody ever won a football game by worrying about being tackled by the opposition, and nobody ever won anyone to God by worrying about what they may encounter, either. God wants to see if we are willing to pick up the ball and do something with it.
Jesus gave us our marching orders in MATTHEW 28:19,20 –
‘Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’
However, across this country we will find church after church that is afraid to pick up the ball. They do not look forward, but they look backwards. They are afraid to take a risk, even for God. They are so entrenched in the way things have always been, they cannot, for the life of themselves, understand how somebody else could be touched for Jesus if it is done differently than what they have always been used to.
There are several major areas I feel that are hindering our churches today.
1. UNHEALTHY TRADITIONS HURT US
Most of America’s churches are failing. The numbers of their congregations are going down quite rapidly. And when new people come in, what do they do? They see a church that is steeped in tradition and afraid to change. Most of these visitors will walk out after the service and never come back. And, on top of that, churches are now seeing their own people start to drift away.
In these churches, tradition usually means more to the church people than someone else’s salvation. They get real busy doing things for the church, but do not have time to worship in church. After a period of time, it evolves into nothing more than going through the motions while remaining in a comfort zone – getting further and further away from God.
I think that today’s churches, must quickly realize that to survive, we must be very pro-active. We must actually be willing to pick up the ball and run with it rather than be content to sit here talking about football but afraid to play football.
We need to take a look around at the churches around us that are growing. We need to see what they are doing, and we need to honestly judge to see if what they are doing can be integrated into what we are doing – even if it is different. The only hesitation should be if it goes against our beliefs or goes against the strict truth of the Bible. If it is compatible with those two criteria, than we are wrong if we do not try and include that in our church.
Jesus warned about it, taught about it, modeled it, but so many still don’t get it. Throughout the Bible we see Jesus breaking the traditions for a more important cause. One of the obvious ones was the healing of people on the Sabbath Day. The Religious leaders of the day considered that to be work and thus broke the Sabbath tradition of resting and not working. And almost every time Jesus responded in the same way by saying that people’s hurts were always more important than people’s traditions.
Churches actually need two types of people. The first type of person is the one who deals with the here and now, or the present. The second type of person is the one who deals with the future; what could be, what should be. However, most churches are filled with people who only look at the past when trying to figure out what to do in the future, and leave everything up to the pastor, and then get mad at him if everything he does doesn’t turn out successful.
Most churches let seven words keep them from being a true impact in their communities. Those seven words are: “We have never done it that way!”
What hurts my heart is that I have seen church after church operate under that philosophy while people around them are going to hell.
There was a monastery in Europe perched high on a cliff several hundred feet in the air. The only way to reach the monastery was to be suspended in a basket, which was pulled to the top by the monks. The ride up that steep cliff was terrifying. One tourist noticed that the rope by which they were suspended was old and frayed. With a trembling voice he asked the monk who was riding with him in the basket how often they changed the rope. The monk thought for a moment and answered, "Whenever it breaks."