Summary: This sermon is a call for churches to realize the importance of complete loyalty to God.
“WHERE IS YOUR LOYALTY?” 2 Kings 17:33
INTRO – Dr. Thom Rainer is Dean of Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY. In an article entitled, “What do numbers tell us?” Rainer shares some eye-opening information:
- Across America, we Christians reach only one person for Christ for every 85 members in our churches.
- Southern Baptists like to say that we do twice as well in that we baptize 1 person for every 40 members. But if you back out the Christians that we baptize that are coming from non-immersion denominations and re-baptisms, our numbers come pretty close to matching up w/ the national average of 1:85.
- A “growing” church is defined by Rainer as a church that is “not only increasing in attendance, but it is increasing at a pace faster than its community’s population growth rate. In a survey of 1,159 churches in America, only 6% are growing according to his definition of “growing.” In other words, 94% of our churches are losing ground in the communities they serve. (www.churchcentral.com)
I don’t know if MBC and FBCJ would be in the 6% or in the 94%. But I do know that no matter which group our churches would be in, our job as Christians and as God’s church has not changed.
- His command to love Him w/ all our heart, soul, mind, and strength has not changed.
- His commission to make disciples of all men has not changed.
- His challenge to be His witnesses in our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth has not changed.
- His comforting promise that He will be w/ us always has not changed.
So whether we are:
- “Seeking God through authentic worship & personal discipleship; Sharing Christ with the lost of our community & world; & Serving others by our missions giving & actions” as MBC;
- Or “Loving God; loving each other; learning & obeying the Word of God; and committing our lives, talents, & resources to the task of telling as many as we can about the love of God in Jesus Christ” as FBCJ;
We must be about the task of being the churches that God has called us to be in the communities where He has placed us. And we must make sure that our loyalty to Him is steadfast and sure.
Unfortunately, this verse in 2 Kings is a pretty good snapshot of the modern-day church and modern-day Xnty. It’s a picture of divided loyalty.
- They worshipped the Lord;
- BUT they also served their own gods.
The churches in that 94% figure may well be in their declining state in large part b/c of the divided loyalty of many of their members. Christianity suffers more from divided loyalty than from any other weakness. God has clearly said that it is not enough to just declare our faith; we must demonstrate our faith with the living of our lives for His glory and His honor.
- “These people come near to me w/ their mouth and honor me w/ their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” (Isa. 29:13)