Colossians 2:8-10 – “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” NKJV
Let us return to yesterday’s concluding question, “Is there an answer?” God is the answer! However, the outworking of that is much more inclusive and expansive. It is my observation and belief that many churches that could bring healing and resolution for many of today’s problems are not doing so.
That is partially because they have allowed themselves to become overburdened with busyness or become so frustrated that they have essentially given up trying. It is a sad indictment or realization that, too often, the entity that is supposed to be God’s Glorious Church has frequently turned the problem over to the world to deal with Symptoms when we are the only ones with a real Solution!
It is not the outside of the cup that is important but the inside. It is not the exterior but the interior or the heart that is important. But if we are asserting there is an answer, what is the problem?
I believe there are several problems in the Church not taking the battle to the devil and breaking down the barriers, walls, and chains the forces of hell have placed upon lives, communities, homes, churches, and nations. I have talked with pastor after pastor and church leader after church leader, and a consistent theme is “Lack of Vision.” It is not that there is no vision, but there is no corporate or identified vision that people can rally around.
Another issue is Fear. In today’s politically correct world, with the threats and accusations being hurled at churches, believers, and ministers, too many are operating out of fear, and timidity has taken control. There is fear of the PC world, but there is also hesitancy because of fear of failure causing many to be unwilling to venture beyond the known and safe. The fear of rejection is a powerful tool used by the devil, and it can produce paralysis, which is tragic.
I have also discovered that with the availability of information and the power of technology, some have allowed it to replace anointing. There was a time in the church when ministers dared not ascend to the pulpit without knowing they had heard from God, and when they spoke God’s word, the anointing opened the door for holy conviction. The demonstration of God’s power was present powerfully.
I am also fully aware that there have been those who have misused the gifts God has given and become manipulative for their own purposes. That is a problem with the heart, not the gift.
I have also realized that we have relegated training to institutions rather than men of God making disciples and, as Moses of old, training people to function according to Ephesians 4. We need to inform, but we also need to give a practical place for people to develop their gifts and callings in God. Where better than in the protective shelter of the local congregation under the watchful eye of the leaders whom God has appointed, called, and released?
Our society appears to have fallen prey to the mentality of consumerism, and that is impacting the church negatively. Through advertising and technology, people are conditioned to ‘shop around’ for the best deal or that which is most pleasing or interesting. That has spilled over into how people find a local church to become planted in.
I do not know where I saw this questionnaire, but it has validity. I believe it was a questionnaire that a pastor presented to his congregation, and I offer it to you for your consideration. Pastor, if you choose to use it, feel free to do so.
Honestly Evaluate Your Fellowship or Church: [Rate each category 1-10, with 10 being the best possible and 1 being the worst.]
- Is it genuinely open to the Holy Spirit?
- Do the Bible teachings presented stress practical daily living?
- Is there a healthy emphasis placed on relationships?
- Is the church still rigidly encumbered with flattering titles, or is there an openness to informality?
- Does the church understand the family, its problems, and needs?
- Do the members share their faith through their words and deeds?
- Does the church recognize and value the ability of both men and women?
- Does the church place a high value and emphasis on Worship? (Not just singing songs but worship).
- Is the church diverse or open to diversity without compromising its core principles?
- Is the church action-oriented more than program-oriented?
What is the score? Here is the key given for them to evaluate the local congregation:
65 or Less – – Dramatic improvement needed.
66-80 – – – – – -Not too bad.
81-100 – – – – -People will miss the NFL pre-game show and arrive early to get a good seat.
Obviously, he placed a bit of humor, but the message is impossible to miss. We can either become rigidly religious or pursue righteousness. We can focus on symptoms and miss the disease or problem and direct our focus, efforts, and energy wrongly, or we can move beyond symptoms and address the root problems.
Many believers want to be invested and active in The Glorious Church Jesus declared He was building and is now building. My prayer is, “LORD, I want to decrease so You can increase in my life, and I want to move from simply being religious to being a living, breathing manifestation of You!”
God bless you as you enjoy this day in our LORD!