Is Your Church Growing Young?

growing-young-book-3d-transparent-e1474419441508I recently had the opportunity to be a part of the launch team for a book called Growing Young by Kara Powell, Jack Mulder, and Brad Griffin based on research from the Fuller Youth Institute that addresses the vitally important issue of young people and our churches.

Across the United States, churches are losing both members and vitality as increasing numbers of young people disengage.  ~Growing Young

Church attendance is declining. Congregations are aging. According to the research found in Growing Young, “no major Christian tradition is growing in the U.S. today.”

After researching the topic of young people and their faith for my upcoming book Pouring In: Pouring The Passion Of Christ Into Our Kids, the sobering truth was undeniable. Though the numbers varied slightly from one study to the next, they all came to the same conclusion—we are losing our kids.

The decline in overall church attendance is linked with young people’s religious practices or lack thereof.   ~Growing Young

According to Ken Ham’s 2009 book  Already Gone, “A mass exodus is underway. Most youth of today will not be coming to church tomorrow.”

Seven years later does the picture look any different?

According to David Kinnaman in his book You Lost Me, “Most young Christians are struggling less with their faith in Christ than with their experience of church.”

So the problem we face is two fold; first, our kids are abandoning their faith; and second, our kids are walking away from the church.

Why is it so important to focus on bringing young people back to our churches?

Aside from the obvious reason of winning young people to Christ, there are great benefits for the church as well.

If your overall hope and prayer is to have a vibrant congregation, there is arguably no better starting place than the contagious passion of teenagers and young adults. ~Growing Young

For the church to thrive and be healthy we need young people. We must understand that young people are vital to the health of Christ’s church.

And knowing that Christ’s disciples were likely young, how can we be satisfied knowing that teenagers and young adults are extremely underrepresented in our churches?

Growing Young identifies six essential strategies to help young people discover and love the church.

The Warmth Factor

I have been feeling tension about the ‘American church’ for years. Something didn’t feel right. Something was missing. For a long time I couldn’t put my finger on what was troubling me.

When I got to chapter 5, Fuel a Warm Community, of Growing Young, I almost jumped out of my seat and shouted, “That’s it! Warmth . . . . that’s it! That’s what’s missing from our churches!”

The qualities of a warm church include authenticity, hospitality, caring, welcoming, accepting, and belonging.   ~Growing Young

As I ponder the welcoming and inviting qualities of warmth, I think about church greeters.

I guess it is nice to have someone shake your hand when you walk in a church building, but do the greeters really care about who they are greeting? My guess would be probably not. And if I were a greeter at my church, I probably wouldn’t either. There’s too many people.

Greeting people verses warmth is the difference between shaking someone’s hand and looking into a person’s eyes and seeing their brokenness.

Going through the motions to check ‘served the church’ off of our list doesn’t count as warmth.

Could the lack of warmth in our churches be repelling young people? Warmth radiates out of authentic community. It can’t be faked.

One pastor said, “We can hire and buy cool, but we can’t hire—or fake—warmth.”   ~Growing Young

Warmth provides a fertile atmosphere in which love and relationships can grow.

Warmth is really caring about the answer when we ask, ‘how are you?’ Warmth says, “I see you” and “I want to know you.”

Warmth says “you are welcome here and you belong.” Warmth says “you don’t have to have it all together to be loved and accepted.”

Come As You Are

“Come as you are” is a popular catch phrase in churches today. Many of us claim this platitude. But do we really mean it?  Is “come as you are” the feeling that people get when they walk through the doors of our churches?

If we say “come as you are,” we had better mean it. Because if young people “come as they are,” but everything around them screams, “not good enough,” we will lose them. It’s that simple.

Young people won’t tolerate judgement. The church instead needs to offer them acceptance. The church needs to offer them a family.

Warmth is more than superficial community. It’s like family.   ~Growing Young

It’s Not About Being Nice

I don’t think anyone in the church would characterize Christ as nice. I certainly wouldn’t.

By suggesting that churches need to grow warmer, we don’t mean adults should be nice to young people. Nice does not cut it.  ~Growing Young

Jesus went far above and beyond nice. Jesus was all about love and relationships. He was about truth. And warmth radiated from His spirit. Maybe that is why so many people were drawn to Him.

If we want to get young people back in our churches, warmth and connection in relationships are key.

Today’s teenagers desire real relationships that are characterized by depth, vulnerability, openness, listening, and love—connectedness in their disconnected, confusing, and alienated world.   ~Walt Mueller, Youth Culture 101

Young people today are starved for authentic relationships. And they don’t have the time or relational energy for nice.

Teenagers and young people matter. Church matters. And teenagers and young people matter in the church.

Are teenagers and young people a priority at your church?
Is your church welcoming and warm to young people?
Does your church have a good number of teenagers and emerging adults?

These are great questions to ponder within the context of your church and of mine.

Thanks to Kara Powell, Jack Mulder, and Brad Griffin and the Fuller Youth Institute for bringing us Growing Young. This book could revolutionize the American church as we know it.

7 Reasons why I am not jumping on the church growth bandwagon

It’s tiring being the weird one. Believe me . . . sometimes I wish that I could just go to church on Sundays, sit in the sanctuary, listen to a message, clap and sing praise songs, catch up with my friends, and go on my merry way.

  • Why can’t I just enjoy the new worship center that is twice as big as before?
  • Why can’t I be proud of the fact that droves of new people are coming in our doors on a regular basis?
  • Why can’t I be excited about a church that looks so good from the outside?
  • Why can’t I just get on board?

Lord knows that I have asked myself these questions many times. Why can’t I go back to the shallow end of the pool? Why do I have to dwell in the depths of the deep? Oh, I often contemplate it.

But, I know that I can’t go back. And, truth be told, I wouldn’t want to.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. John 6:68

According to one blog post, “Growth is ALWAYS the goal of the New Testament church.”

I disagree. I don’t believe church growth should be our gauge for success.


Because church growth with a big ‘C’ (Christ’s Church) does not always equal church growth with a little ‘c’ (1 specific church). And church growth with a little ‘c’ doesn’t necessarily translate into more disciples, which is the purpose of Christ’s Church.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Matthew 28:19

There are 7 reasons why I don’t believe in church growth.

1. Not everyone can use their spiritual gifts

When you have a church with thousands of people, it is nearly impossible for everyone to use their spiritual gifts within the church. Only a select group will be able to.

What if there are 250 people at a church of 4,000 with the gift of preaching or pastoring? No church of any size has 250 pastors! That means that there are at least 240 people unable to use their spiritual gift.

God gives us all spiritual gifts, and we should all be using them within the ‘body of Christ’, the Church.

Is everyone using their spiritual gifts at large churches? The answer is likely ‘no’. It is more likely that there will be way more gifted people at a large church than can be utilized.

2. Small groups are no substitute for Church

Large churches answer the criticism of their size by saying, ‘we encourage everyone to join a small group’.

My husband and I have been in small groups off an on for twenty years. We have seldom experienced (C)hurch in any of them. Most small groups do not focus on scripture. They do not focus on the Holy Spirit and how He is moving in their lives. The majority of small groups are not about encouraging each other in boldness; or holding one another accountable to scripture.

Small groups are a social gathering.

“In the search for answers I began to attend a large church in our local town, but instead of answers, all I found was a sort of spiritual country club where the dues were a dollar a week in the offering plate.”   ~Willaim Lane Craig

According to Randy White, “The (small) groups engage in fellowship time, then go on their way as biblically empty as when they arrived.”

Small groups are not a substitute for church.

3. The problem with the 25 year plan

About five years ago, our church went through a building campaign. This is when I learned that our church had a 25 year plan.

It is not just having a 25 year plan that bothers me, it is being bound to it that does.

How can a church be spirit-led if it is bound to a plan that we created? If God tells us to move, and it conflicts with our 25 year plan, then what? Are we open to a different plan that God may have for us at any moment?

Can having a 25 year plan breed arrogance and independence instead of DEPENDENCE on God?

I can’t help but think about the stories of God leading His people in the Old Testament. What faith Moses and Joshua had when God asked them to do some crazy things! Every move that they made came directly from God.

God was leading them daily with a cloud by day and fire by night.

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.   Exodus 13:21

To my knowledge, God has never given anyone in scripture a 25 year plan. The closest thing to a ‘plan’ is prophecy. And, prophesy is not a plan; it is a hope; it is a promise of the grace and salvation to come through Jesus Christ.

We, as the church, must surrender our ‘plan’ to God and let HIM guide us.

4. Campaign strategies don’t belong at church

Many churches hire consultants or building campaign strategists to help with their church growth campaigns. Churches should never look to someone with the word ‘strategist’ in their title for guidance. The word strategist is code for ‘we’re going to use our plan, not God’s.’

The head of the church is Christ and Christ alone.

Is Jesus Christ not good enough to lead us? Is that really what we believe? 

During the campaign, my husband and I were invited to participate in a building campaign meeting. I thought, ‘Ok, this is good, they want to know what we think about this.’ It ended up being a sales pitch.

We quickly realized that we were not there because they valued our opinions as brothers and sisters in Christ. They were recruiting us to be on their ‘sales team’.

A salesman, or ‘Building Campaign Consultant’ or whatever his title was, got up and started selling. The purpose of the meeting was to get people to advertise the building campaign to the church and the community. Lay people were not wanted for their insight about the direction of the church. They simply wanted bodies to make sales calls, to raise money or help with mass mailings. 

I felt used. And rightly so, I was being used. Not cool at church.

5. Church growth causes us to be inward focused

During building campaigns, everything suddenly is about (fill in a church name). Pride, disguised as church growth, can sneak in.

We start innocently talking about our history and showing pictures. Then we pat ourselves on the back about how much we have grown. It’s a slippery slope to becoming all about ‘us’.

We have to remember that the (C)hurch is not just our (c)hurch. Christ’s church is so much bigger than this building or that address. It is the entire body of Christ.

6. A large church must be run like a business

Logistically speaking, any organization over a certain number of people must be run like a business or it will fall apart.

Church is not a business. Yet, we have cheapened it to this level.

The amount of staff that a church has is a good indication of this ‘business mentality’. A large church must run like a business to manage the staff, expenses/assets, programs & projects.

7. A large church requires a lot of staff

A large church often has a lot of staff.

If there is a lot of staff, then there are fewer opportunities for lay people to step up in ministry.

When this is the case, the church body and the staff become disconnected. Instead of the church being all of God’s people, the staff are seen as the church and the members are just patrons.

We are all the church . . . . every one of us!  Large churches with a lot of paid staff must remember that church goers are as much ‘the Church’ as the paid staff.

God has given me a love for the Church. I am passionate about keeping it pure and holy.

However, Church is a tough one. Christ set the bar pretty high!

As mere mortals, the concept of Church is one that we can never fully grasp. The Church is made up of us, disciples of Christ, yet it is the body of our Lord and Savior. Church is both human and divine at the same time. Hard to grasp?! It definitely is!

Church is supernatural. It is beyond our understanding. I believe that is why there is so much strife in churches today and why we can’t seem to get it right.

Church was never meant to be a building with thousands of people. It was probably never meant to be about a building at all.

You and I are the (C)hurch. And as the (C)hurch, we must hold our (c)hurches accountable and be continually turning them back to Christ. 

3 Things that will make you ‘the weird one’ at church

There are certain things in life that one just has to make peace with. Certain things that just are. Like death and taxes, there are some things that never change.

I’m the weird one. I always have been, and I always will be. And I have made peace with it. I know where I belong. And, it isn’t here.

I recently learned there is a name for people that tend to rock the boat and stir things up; people who tend to disrupt the regular flow of how things typically work. They are the ones that question everything; the ones that are not content with the status quo. They are called ‘disrupters’.

Oh yeah, I am definitely one of those! Disrupters are definitely the weird ones!

I have found that there are 3 things that will make you the ‘disrupter’ or ‘the weird one’ at church.

1. You don’t live by the mantra, ‘family first’

How many times have you heard the phrase ‘family first’? We see it on commercials and public service announcements almost everyday. We read about it in blog posts, and articles. It has become a popular mantra in our society.

Too often, though, I hear it in church as well.

“Do I spend more time focusing on being a good spouse and parent, or more time focusing on being a godly person?” – Lisa Chan, You and Me Forever

Most of the churches I have encountered, seem to believe that family comes first. it’s all about family. As I hear this being spoken at church, I have to wonder if the person speaking it realizes what he or she is saying.

The American church has made family an idol.

God must always come first. And, not only should He come first, there shouldn’t be a closefamily first second. Nothing should come close to God in our lives.  

Of course, family is important, but it should never come first in our lives. That spot should always belong to God. He won’t share His position with anyone or anything; not even our family.

When Christ said how we are to love God, He didn’t mean after we love our family first.

If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26

And surprisingly, even though we put families on a pedestal, there are just as many divorces inside the church as there are outside. Maybe if we realized that family doesn’t come first, and put God back in His rightful place, this wouldn’t be the case.

We must put God over our families, the way He intended. Only then can our families be healthy and strong. If we put God first, then the family will be as it should be, UNDER His Lordship. 

2. You are not always happy

When someone at church asks me how I am, a million thoughts go through my mind, but I know that I am expected to be ‘fine’. If you say something other than ‘fine’, you will be the weird one. We are supposed to be fine, not real!

Recently my Sunday school class started a video series. The title of it was ‘What Makes You Happy?’ For some reason Christians seem to think that they should be happy. I am always perplexed by this. 

My husband and I are not big fans of doing a video series and I am not a fan of talks on happiness. So, I was doodling a barfing face on the handout (I know – real mature!). 

The word happiness rubs me the wrong way like the wrong string in a guitar chord. What is happiness? defines it as good fortune; pleasure; contentment; or joy.

Should we strive for good fortune?
Should we strive for pleasure?
Should we strive for contentment?
Should we strive for joy?

One can argue either way for each of these. In and of themselves, none of these are bad things. God is good and wants good things for us.

Not always happyDoes God want us to have good fortune? Yes, but in eternity with Him, not in this life. We are not to be focused on our good fortune on earth. We need to strive to love and glorify God whether it brings us good fortune or bad.

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”   Luke 12:15

Does God want us to experience pleasure? Yes, I believe He does. However, He does not want us to strive for personal pleasure, it should flow from a close walk with Him.

He who loves pleasure will become a poor man.   Proverbs 21:17

Does God want us to be content? Well, content with what? Does God want us to be content with Him? Absolutely! However, He does not desire for us to be content with everything. Jesus was not content with everything.

“He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”   John 2:15-16

We shouldn’t be content with sin. We shouldn’t be content with the status quo, if that means a church that is lukewarm. We shouldn’t be content with a country that has turned its back on God. And, we shouldn’t be content with people not knowing Christ.

God wants us to be content with Him, while at the same time discontent with the things of this world; things that are not pleasing to Him.

Does God want us to experience joy? I can’t write a YES big enough for this one! He desires for us to have complete joy in Him. Joy is big. His joy is HUGE!

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.   John 15:11

However, joy is very different than happiness.

3. You seek depth

There are a lot of fun activities at churches; jam sessions, bingo night, worship night, Vacation Bible School, Wednesday night dinners, Zoomba, and small group ‘speed dating’, just to name a few. Social activities at church are fun.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m all for fun. I love fun as much as the next person! However, fun can’t be all that is happening at church.

I used to be in a specific group at my church. It was a blast! We all loved to get together and do what we loved most. We had such a good time. But we weren’t challenging each other to grow in Christ, we were enabling each other to just have fun.

seeking-spiritual-truthAt a certain point, I started to notice things. Our conversations weren’t necessarily ‘holy’. We never talked about anything spiritual. And, it didn’t seem to me like most of the people were there to glorify God. They were there because they loved what we were doing, and they wanted to hang out with their friends.

God pulled me away from this group. As a result, I am now able to participate in another group where we do grow spiritually. And, where we do challenge each other.

Life with Christ isn’t meant to be lived on the surface. There if a whole ocean below if we are willing to dive in. Jesus challenges us to . . . . “put out into deep water” (Luke 5:4).

Truly following Christ can result in grief, sorrow, or depression, as well as extreme joy and rejoicing. With these intense emotions comes a necessary depth. And once you go down to the deep, you will never be satisfied with the shore again.

If you are ‘the weird one’ at your church, you’re not alone. There are millions of ‘weird ones’ all over the world. One could say that Jesus was ‘the weird one’ of His day. So, you are in good company! 

Follow Christ. Study His Word. Never compromise, even if it means being ‘the weird one’.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Are you the weird one?

Church, we have to get this right

“We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that he should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at his love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground.” ~Brennan Manning, Ragamuffin Gospel

I have some thoughts that have been nagging me for a few years. I find it so hard to know when to speak what I believe to be truth to brothers and sisters in Christ, and when to stay silent. Many have spoken out about the issue of church in this country. God has placed the state of the American church on my heart as well. My goal is not to simply add to the noise, not just to complain or criticize it, but to fight for it.

I am pained by the direction that I see American churches going. I fear that in such subtle ways, our eyes and focus may be moving away from Christ and His teachings, and toward getting the masses to come in our doors. Are we, as the church, staying true to God’s Word and furthering His Kingdom? Or, as so many megachurches emerge, is it a numbers game?

The church of today is very polished and attractive from the outside. No wonder people are flocking to it. But, we must look at what is going on inside. Is the Word of God preached unapologetically in truth and love?

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. ”  Matthew 23:27

Church is more than a building. It is not this church or that church. It is not this address or that website. It is the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is beyond the physical.

“What the church –the disciples gathered –really needs is not more people, more money, better buildings or programs, more education, or more prestige. Christ’s gathered people, the church, has always been at its best when it had little or none of these.”  -Dallas Willard, The Great Omission

We must not be married to our ‘church plans’. Christ is the head of church. How can a church be Christ-led if it is bound to a plan that we created?  If God tells us to move, and it conflicts with our plan, then what? Can having a long term plan breed arrogance and independence instead of DEPENDENCE on God?

Church has been on my mind lately. Oh, my soul is troubled. I just can’t shake this feeling that something is off. I can’t shake the feeling that maybe we can do church better.

I am troubled that our mission as the body of Christ might be compromised by our culture. I see how much like our society American churches have become. I would say that if we resemble the world too much in our churches or ourselves, we are on dangerous ground.

“Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers.”  Francis Chan, Crazy Love

Where is the tension with the culture that Jesus and the apostles experienced? Where is the upside down teaching of Christ that led crowds of people to cry out for His death? Where is the anguish that caused Jesus to sweat blood that night on the Mount of Olives?

He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22:41-44

I mostly see comfort in our churches. I don’t see people crying out to God; I don’t see people so broken by the sin of the world that they can’t speak; and I don’t see people groaning in prayer for the lost. Where is our anguish and sorrow for a world that doesn’t know Jesus?

We have to ask ourselves, ‘are we lukewarm?’

Becoming lukewarm needs be always on our minds as ‘the church’, just as pride must always be on our minds because we are human. God knows our tendencies as individuals and as the church. He laid it out in scripture. We must acknowledge our sinful tendencies so that we can fight against them.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  Revelation 3:15-16

Most sermon topics revolve around being a better Christian, a better spouse, a better parent, a better citizen, a better neighbor or a better employee. These are all topics we need to be challenged on. However, I feel as though we neglect to preach on being a better church. We need to be examining ourselves to be ready as the body of Christ, just as a bride-to-be prepares for her wedding day.

We focus and teach on these things:

  • Are we seeking His Kingdom first (Matthew 6:33)?
  • Do we take care of the poor and oppressed (Matthew 25:35-40)?
  • Do we feed His sheep (John 21:15–16)?
  • Are we fishers of men (Matthew 4:19)?
  • Are we loving our neighbors (Matthew 22:39–40)?

Many sermons on these topics have been given over the years. And they are vital if we are going to be faithful disciples. However, I believe that there are crucial areas that we neglect to address.

I feel strongly that we must be looking at what is going on within the walls of our churches. The church will never be perfect, but we need to be continually asking God how to make it better; how we can be better prepared for the wedding of the Lamb.

   For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
   and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
   and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
   was given her to wear.”  Revelations 16:6-9

  • Do we love each other within the church as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 13)?

Love is what it’s all about. If people can’t walk into our church and be blown away by the love that we have for each other, than we have work to do. People need to come into our sanctuaries and say, ‘No way! I’ve never seen a group of people love each other like that!’

  • Do we deal with relationships within these walls in a way pleasing to Him (Matthew 5:23–25)?

What does a church-goer do when they disagree with something the church is doing or have conflict with someone in leadership? What is the protocol?

What I believe most often happens is that person or couple will be agitated or have an offense with someone within the church, but they say nothing. As time goes on, they get more and more agitated, and their frustration snowballs. Eventually, they are so extremely disgruntled that they leave. They disappear from the church and are seen no more. A few months later, we ask each other, what ever happened to the so and so’s?

This is how it works at every church that I have ever known. If you have a problem with the church, you leave. And, you find another church that temporarily pleases you. Until conflict arises, that is, and the cycle continues.

People leaving their church when they are frustrated poses 4 problems:

  1. That person loses the opportunity to be refined by God (Zechariah 13:9) by walking through the painful process of facing that difficult relationship or situation
  2. The church loses the opportunity to be refined by God through that difficult situation
  3. God calls us, the church, to be unified (John 17:20-23)
  4. We are all ‘the church’, and if one of us has a problem, the whole body has a problem (1 Corinthians 12:26).

Our growth and maturity as a church is stunted if we settle for this way of handling conflict. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong.

  • Are we in this church dealing with pride among the body AND the leaders (Jeremiah 49:16, 1 Corinthians 8:2)?

I often thought what a challenge pride would be for those in a place of power or popularity. The enemy will gladly use a stage to throw his arrows of temptation. I truly believe that pride is the enemy of ministry. And, I hope and pray that you, as the leaders, have a plan in place to always keep this on your radar.

  • Are we making disciples (Matthew 28:19)?

The business of the church is to make disciples, and to make disciple-makers. We must ask ourselves these questions. Are the people in our church disciples? Are we, ourselves, disciples? Are we all making disciples? Are we all repenting? Are we all baptizing?

Let’s not just teach what Jesus commanded, let’s teach people to OBEY what Jesus commanded.

“Most problems in contemporary churches can be explained by the fact that members have never decided to follow Christ.”   -Dallas Willard, The Great Omission

  • Are we caring for the weak and lowly within our walls as well as outside them (Ezekiel 34:3-4)?
  • Who do we most highly esteem in the church, the poor widows or the rich fools (Mark 12:41-44 & Luke 21:1-4)?

Jesus Christ didn’t look like a king. He was different than any leader of His day. He took nothing for Himself, He was not loud and aggressive. Do we as the church, put leaders in front of the people and on our stages that most resemble Christ? Or, do we put the most impressive, the most learned, the most credentialed, and the most attractive above others? Does the church choose its leaders any differently than secular society?

  • Are we speaking truth to each other (Ephesians 4:15)?
  • Are we rebuking each other when we fall into sin (galatians 6:1)?
  • Are we searching for the lost (Luke 15:1-7)?
  • Are we choosing the narrow path (Matthew 7:13–14)?
  • Are we guarding against false prophets (Matthew 7:15)?
  • Are we denying ourselves (Luke 9:23–25)?
  • Are we servants of all, including servants to each other (Matthew 20:26–28)?
  • Are we focused on storing up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19–21)?
  • Are we preparing ourselves for Christ’s return (Matthew 24:42–44)?
  • Are we unified? Are we one? (John 17:20-23)

God has burdened me for the church. It is so often on my heart and mind. I fight so hard not to do or say the wrong things, that most times I do or say nothing. The tug-of-war within me is between the fear of being prideful or wrong on one side, and the fear of spending my life standing for nothing on the other.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-23

Don’t get me wrong, I love the church. It is this love for the body of Christ that fuels my passion. We don’t know the hour our Master will return, therefore, we must always be ready. I desire for the church to always be holy and blameless.

He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.  Ephesians 1:9-10

The truth is that each one of us is the church. It is up to all of us to fight to keep the body of Christ alive with the fire of the Holy Spirit. I know that I will always have things to repent of and work on until that glorious day the Lord Jesus takes me home. So it is with the church. We must be vigilant about keeping it pure and beautiful as the bride of Christ.

It’s time for revival in our churches! It’s time for an awakening! As church members, are we fresh with the fire of the living God in our bellies?  Or, is it ‘business as usual?” Church is a big deal, brothers and sisters. We have to get this right!