The Shrinking Church

The success of any business large or small is directly related to its work and sales force and its ability to get its products to market in a timely manner. If any of these elements are missing it won’t be long until the let down is noticed in the company’s bottom line and the leadership will be looking at making changes to implements new ideas to get its market share back up if they want to remain competitive in the business world. No company can stay in business if it is not producing a quality product at competitive prices and striving to maintain or increase its share of the market. If a company is not growing, it is going nowhere. And a company that has stopped growing has become stagnant, treading water, and is just waiting for a person or group of people to come along with a better idea to take away their share of the market. If the maket is satisfied with the present products on store shelves there would be no room in the market place for a new business to enter and make a splash. And anytime an upstart company can stay in business long enough to start making waves in the market place, somebody is losing market share; and their investors are not going to be happy.  

Our modern day churches in America are a lot like the failing businesses in our country. They are ran pretty much the same and many of them are in debt, overpaid, underworked, deadpanned and hoping for a miracle to bail them out. Our focus is not on our product lines and the quality of our products, but our 401k retirement funds and our present day incomes. We have become stagnant and are losing ground to religions that are full of promises they can’t back up and an unrealistic reward system for their laborers. On the otherhand, Christianity is not only full of promises, but rewards are abundant at whatever level of growth we might be. Even though there are 1.4 billion people in the world who profess to be Christians, there are not many of them that can tell you what the Lord God of heaven expects of them, or sufficiently describe their job description. And because we have lost sight of the Lord’s objective, we have become master church builders and experts at creating new programs to entertain our members, and chefs producing the best and finest home cooked meals for our church bodies. But, will these things make our board of directors happy? How about our shrinking bottom lines and church closings? Would this bad news make any corporate CEO jump for joy? And lastly, do you think our Lord and Master is happy with our product quality? Our labor force and production techniques? And our sales force whose job it is to see that we have places to deliver our goods after they are produced? I titled this message, “The Shrinking Church” because our denominational leaders do not seem to understand that church growth is directly related to bringing in the harvest of souls that Jesus said is always ready to be harvested. We can’t expect church growth if the harvest is left in the field to rot. And we can’t expect to get the harvest in from the fields if we don’t have laborers ready to go into the fields and work. Harvest time and church growth fit together like a hand and glove.

I know this next portion of my message is going to tee off the ministers who read this blog, but isn’t it time we understand the reason something isn’t moving forward is because it isn’t moving at all, or it is going backwards. We say a person is backslidden when they no longer go to church. Have we ever wondered why they are not attending? Have we ever really talked to them to see why they are not attending? If we did, we just might learn from them our church isn’t exactly an inviting place to worship, or it isn’t going anywhere, there is no fire in the stove to draw people in, the production line is all but closed down, and no new products have appeared on the pews for years. We need to take off the rose colored glasses and see that our labor force has become fat and lazy because they are no longer required to perform the job that once made the church great. And do we have the right to expect them to be happy campers when spiritually they know things are not the way they should be? In truth, aren’t these churches just as backslidden as the person who has quit doing the things that once made them a Christian?

Now let’s look at Matthew 28:18-20, “… All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” And John 4:32, 34-38 Jesus speaking, “I have food to eat of which you do not know. … My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work. Do you not say, “There are still four months and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows, and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this saying is true, “One sows and another reaps.” I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” These few scriptures I have quoted from Matthew and John give us the description of the work each Christian is to be performing. God is in the soul saving business and His business should be the primary focus of every Christian. That’s why He saved us and brought us into His work force. He didn’t save us because we were a good person. He saved us because He needs laborers in His harvest fields. Our first priority in life is to meet His needs, but somewhere along the line we have been taught to expect our needs to be met first. Jesus said, “It is better to give than to receive.” We give God our labor, and God gives us His rewards. It’s a win – win situation for both of us. He gets His harvest harvested, and we reap the blessings of our labors. The sooner we figure that out the better off we will be. New church buildings, more programs, and good cooking is not going to draw the lost into the church. Jesus said in Matthew 28, “Go, into all the world and preach the gospel.” That my dear friends is a direct order from the Son of God that pertains to every living, breathing Christian to put their work clothes on and go into the harvest fields and start harvesting God’s crops.

Notice how this story in John began: Jesus said, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” Do you know where the disciples went after they left Jesus at this well in the middle of nowhere? They went searching for food to satisfy the hunger of their physical bodies. Our new church buildings, new programs, and church luncheons will not feed the hungry soul of the laborer or the hungry and thirsty soul of the lost. The disciples thoughts were on their bodies, but the thoughts of Jesus was on His Father’s business. A person or church that is more intent on feeding their bodies then they are in bringing in the harvest cannot expect to receive wages from our Master. We are fools if we think otherwise. In God’s kingdom only the workmen receive wages; and our wages are based solely upon our production output. If we don’t go to work in the Lord’s harvest field, why do we expect wages? That should motivate us to go to work don’t you think? God doesn’t pay unemployment or retirement benefits because we have job security for life, plus the best benefit package in the universe. A pay scale that is second to none, plus free healthcare, free medical, free dental and vision, but He doesn’t provide life insurance. We won’t need it because God gives us the assurance we are going to live forever. And for those workaholics among us who never get tired of work; the fields are always white unto harvest. The harvest fields of God begins in our homes and from there it spreads out into our communities, our resident state, our nation, and the world. So wake up! Get your work clothes on. The harvest fields are beckoning because there is still much work to be done before the close of day and “the night comes when no one can work.” (John 9:4) DThrash



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