I am honored to lead the Resources Division at LifeWay and serve with a team of leaders who are passionate to serve the Church in her mission of making disciples. Each Wednesday, I share the heart behind one of the resources our team has developed and give an opportunity for you to register to win a free copy of the resource. This week’s resource is Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Revelation. Below is an excerpt from Dr. Daniel Akin.
In 2014, Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, wrote a highly acclaimed book titled Autopsy of a Deceased Church. Its genesis was a popular blog article with the same title. In this book Rainer identifies several fatal causes that put once-alive and vibrant churches in the grave. These include:
- treating the past as the hero;
- refusing to adapt to the needs of the present community;
- moving the focus of the budget inward;
- allowing the Great Commission to become the Great Omission;
- letting the church become preference-driven out of selfishness and personal agendas;
- seeing the tenure of the pastors decreasing;
- failing to have regular, corporate prayer;
- having no clear purpose or vision; and
- obsessing over the facilities.
Here I would like to build on Rainer’s excellent points with a simple observation. Many a church begins with a man, reaches out with a mission, becomes a movement, but ends up a monument or in the mortuary. This is a polite way of saying many a church begins with life but ends in death. It has a glorious past, but a glorious past is all it has. It is now a zombie church, a church of the living dead. There are live bodies walking around with dead souls on the inside. Amazingly, astonishingly, sometimes only God notices. Spiritually there is no pulse, no heartbeat. Spiritually they are flat-lined, a dead church.
Another complement to Rainer’s precise analysis might be an article titled “When Does My Church Need Revival?” in which Stevan Manley highlights six tell-tale signs of a church standing at death’s door:
- The church is plagued with disagreements.
- The preaching is ineffective.
- Few can remember when a person was last saved.
- God’s supernatural power is never seen.
- God is not praised regularly.
- No one is being called into God’s work.
Autopsy studies of modern churches are popular and even helpful. However, they are not new, as Revelation 3:1-6 makes clear. Here the exalted and glorified Christ performs an examination of His church at Sardis, and the results are painful: “You are dead.” The necrosis was spreading and endangered the whole body, but the situation was not past salvaging if they would listen to the Great Physician’s diagnosis and remedies for healing. Hope was fading and time was running out, but it was not yet beyond a cure. Christ is exactly who they need, and His prescription for a possible recovery is what they definitely must hear.
Today on the blog we’ll be giving away 5 copies of Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Revelation. Enter here or in the form below before 11:59pm CT tonight, December 7, 2016. We will notify winners within a week via email.