There is a story about a man that loved books and was quite knowledgeable about them. He was visiting with a friend who told of throwing away a Bible that had been in His family for many generations. He had found it in the attic of the old family home. The friend explained, “I just couldn’t read it, somebody name Guten-something or another had printed it.” The lover of books gasped, “Not a Gutenberg! Why a copy recently sold for over two million dollars!!!”
His friend just shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Nah, mine wouldn’t have sold for even a dollar. Some guy name Martin Luther had scribbled all over it in German!”
At this point I am assuming the booklover passed out! I do not know if this story is true but there are some similar ones from modern day that are. In 1989, a man bought a picture frame for $4.00 at a yard sale. Inside was a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence which he sold for over two million dollars! In 2006, Rick Norsigian purchased two boxes of glass photograph negatives for $45.00 at a garage sale. They were negatives of famed photographer Ansel Adams recognized as the father of modern American nature photography! Mr. Norsigian’s checkbook will be $2,000,000 heavier! Obviously the people that sold these items so cheaply are regretting it. They didn’t realize their value and took them for granted! Last month we were considering the question, “What would you do if your church closed its doors this year.” Unconsconciouly, many take for granted their precious church homes. Unlike these unknowing sellers, we can make sure we are not a part of our church’s demise. Out of the “8 major “Assasins” of the church we had looked at 3. Here are the other 5.
4. Not supporting your pastor. There is a very important fact many members overlook concerning their pastor and that is, “He is God’s man serving as God’s ‘under shepherd’ the office God created.” This is not to be taken lightly. I am not talking about a pastor that is preaching untruths or heresy. If that’s the case you need to be talking TO him, not ABOUT him. Your pastor is a person just like you with faults and limitations, but he has been called to a huge responsibility. 98% of the time the problems someone has with their pastor has to do with personal preference rather that doctrine. Did you know 50% of preachers starting out will quit the ministry within 5 years? In 2011, 1,700 pastors left the ministry for good. We should refuse to speak badly of our pastor or listen to negative gossip. If we have a problem we need to go to him and encourage others to do the same. Murmuring against God’s man will harm us, our family, spread discontent between others, and sow seeds of discord. This destroys a church and certainly doesn’t entice others to come and join.
Our pastor deserves the same respect we show our doctor, lawyer or any dignitary. In fact, a pastor’s role is more important than that of professionals because God has called him to spiritually lead and teach our families. His position carries a very heavy load of responsibility. He will answer to God when he meets Him on how he cared for the Lord’s sheep. It isn’t about “who he is”, but “what he does.” Remember to encourage him in word and deed. I Thess. 5:12-13 speaks of our duty to God concerning this. “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” Your pastor is God’s man, don’t hinder his work.
5. Discord with other members. Last year in all the churches across our country, over 3,500 people left the church DAILY. The majority of these departures were due to misunderstandings, disagreements, and contentiousness of fellow members. Not all the time are these folks purposely being unkind. Quite often it is simply their immaturity as people and Christians in getting along with others. Sometimes they are unhappy with themselves and their lives so they take it out on those around them. Whatever the cause, the bottom line is that they have not let the Lord do a work in their life, either through salvation or spiritual growth.” Proverbs 6:16-19, covers it all. “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”
We must purpose to be peacemakers not troublemakers in our church family. Pray and think before we speak or respond to something that we find offensive. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:” James 1:19
If we are offended the best thing to do is go to that person in love, but even better grow up and learn to forgive and let things go by truly learning to love each other. “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” Proverbs 10:12 How sad it would be that a petty spirit or selfish outburst caused weaker or spiritually younger Christian to leave the church. Many never return to any church. What about those outside the church? People have enough fighting, arguing, and bickering in their jobs and homes. They certainly don’t want to come to what is supposed to be a place of refuge from the world and have more. “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgaven you.” Ephesians 4:32 Being a part of your family is to follow Christ, don’t act like one of the Devil’s kids.
6. Not witnessing or visiting or inviting. Did you know that half of all churches last year did not add one new member through salvation? 80 percent of those who attend church believe it is a personal responsibility to share their Christ, but 61 percent confess they have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the past six months. We just celebrated Christmas and I can guarantee you one of the main subjects being discussed is what gifts were received. A new car, a new job, a new house, a raise, a new pet, you name it if we think it has benefited us and we are rejoicing over it we share the news with others! After all, it is good news to us! That is all fine and good but what about us sharing the “Good News” of Jesus Christ? Does this mean it isn’t something that has benefited us or we rejoice over? Once we are saved we are COMMANDED to share the Gospel with others! “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” Matthew 28:19
We aren’t just to witness but also invite! It isn’t just the pastor’s job! Not proselyting, but inviting those that don’t have a church home. A survey showed that 48 % of church members have not invited anyone to church in 6 months! We invite people to games, dinner, parties, etc., so why don’t we invite them to church? We live in a free country where inviting folks to church won’t cost us our life, our home, or our family, so what’s the hindrance? Your church cannot grow without fulfilling its purpose, winning the lost and disciplining. The only other option is for it to die. This isn’t about increasing numbers but changing lives! Again, visiting and inviting is a command, not an option. “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” Luke 14:23
We will be sharing the Greatest Message, to solve mankind’s Biggest Problem, so that everyone might have the opportunity to receive the Perfect Solution, so they can be a part of the Greatest Purpose that brings glory to the Greatest King. Now isn’t that the Greatest Work ever? To witness and visit is a command, don’t disobey it.
7. Indifference to the needs and struggles of your brothers and sisters in Christ. Being loved and cared for by others is universal. We live in frantically busy times where it is easy to become focused on the little pond of our life we live in. Most of us are so overwhelmed with just the basics of life we fall into the trap of not seeing the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of those around us. As with marriages and parents and children, when one feels neglected, the relationship is weakened. It becomes hard for that couple or family to grow into all they can be. The same thing applies to the church. For most this is not intentional, but if we loved others as we love ourselves it wouldn’t happen. “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31
We need to be sensitive to the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray the Lord will open your eyes to what they are facing. He sees everything they face. Next we must purpose to be empathetic, considerate, compassionate, supportive, and understanding. Respond to them as we would want others to respond to us. This requires stepping out of our comfort zone. When you reach out God will provide you with the resources and time to make a difference. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 Caring for others is vital, don’t take it lightly.
8. Not staying where God has planted you, looking for greener pastures. I hope before each of you joined your church you prayed about where He would want you to serve. Wherever He leads us this is where we need to stay. Not church hopping when something doesn’t suit us; we get mad or offended; or we grow tired of being there and want a change. Don’t go in search of “greener pastures”, and more or better programs. Put down roots and bloom where you are planted. Tumble weeds have no roots they just go wherever the wind blows, much like many church members. We must reject the idea of attending church solely for what the church can do for us. It isn’t about us, it’s about others and Christ! The only time to leave your church home is if God leads you or they stop preaching and teaching scriptural truth. Countless church “transfers” have less to do with God’s will and more to do with backsliding. When one quits focusing on Christ and working for the Lord, they grow discontented and critical. Serving where God has placed you is a calling, don’t reject it
The pathway to a new year stands before us, unknown and untraveled. I ask you again, “What would you do if your church closed its doors this year.” You hold the keys. What will you do?