Almost daily, I hear of churches that are firing their preachers, are engaged in lawsuits and struggling with inner conflict. I know a hundred churches that were strong a generation ago but are fighting to survive now.
These are difficult days for churches, which makes these challenging days for church leaders.
If you are not grieving for the church these days, it must be because your mind is on other things.
Let us care for what is happening, and pray for the Lord's people.
I grieve for the trendy church, which is drawing people in from the smaller surrounding congregations and bursting at the seams, but leaving the smaller ones to shrivel and die. The huge church often cons its members into thinking they are doing something for the kingdom since they are experiencing such growth. Churches can be so self-centered.
I grieve for the church which is having mind-staggering growth but gradually becomes secretive about what it does with the millions of dollars it takes in, protective about the pay it gives its pastor, and dismissive about the questionable personal lives of its leadership. Churches can be carnal.
I grieve for the smaller church, which turns an envious eye at the growing congregations in its community and, desiring to be like the others, dismisses its faithful pastor and worship leaders because "we have to stay current with modern trends." Churches can be wrong-headed.
I grieve for the church which keeps pastors no more than three or four years, then manufactures crises to justify sending them packing so they can bring in another one destined to become a victim himself in due time. Churches can be cruel.
I grieve for the church that fears allowing guitars, keyboards and drums into their worship services because it feels like they are succumbing to the world. Churches can be cowards.
I grieve for the church that thinks installing guitars and drums will solve all their problems. Churches can be caught up in tomfoolery.
I grieve for the church that replaces regular business meetings with an elder-led system, which causes a few people to make all the important decisions for the congregation. Churches can betray their calling.
I grieve for the church led by a preacher who refuses to do the pastoring work of a shepherd, but expects to build a great church by his brilliant preaching. The word pastor means shepherd. Committees in search of a pastor should find out if their candidates actually visit in the homes of members and prospects, the hurting and the lost. Bringing in a preacher simply because he is a great pulpiteer may be the worst decision they will ever make. Churches can be caught up in the world's way, too.
I grieve for the church which is spending more and more of its income on itself and giving less and less to the community, to missions and to other ministries dependent on them. Churches can be greedy.
I grieve for the church whose pastor will not be open and forthcoming with the congregation and will not be transparent regarding his actions and motives, leaving people to feel he must be hiding something. In many cases, he is indeed. (See John 18:20 for Jesus' transparency.) Churches can be victimized.
I grieve even more for that church whose pastor is betraying the congregation but no one will stand up and hold him accountable. Churches can be betrayed by their membership, too.
As many as any, I grieve for the church which is brutal toward its ministers but whose membership has no clue. The congregation never seems to know what its leadership is doing to the ministers. Churches can be blind, too.
Pray for the Lord's church, friend.
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, take ownership (so to speak) in all the churches in your community that honor Him. Pray for them and encourage their people. Do not compete with them but rejoice with the victories of each one.
If you are a disciple of Jesus, by all means join a church in your community and be faithful. Be present each time it meets for worship. Encourage your ministers and leaders. Get into a Sunday School class. Bring an offering. Volunteer.
If you are a leader of your church, ask God for wisdom in choices and programs, courage to do ask the right questions and take the right actions, and integrity in everything. Speak the truth and love everyone.
If you are not a leader of your church, stay informed. Ask the right questions. Don't be afraid to speak up. Brag on leaders who do well.
Pray for the Lord's church, my friends.
So much depends on it.
After five years as director of missions for the 100 Southern Baptist churches of metro New Orleans, Joe McKeever retired on June 1, 2009. These days, he has an office at the First Baptist Church of Kenner, where he's working on three books. He tries to accept every speaking/preaching invitation that comes his way.
For the original article, visit joemckeever.com.
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