By Ken Stalls, BCM/D President and Pastor of South End Baptist Church
I am sure that all of us know that the Church is simply those believers that God brings together for worship, discipleship and ministry. Quite simply, the Church is the people in whom God dwells. I want you to consider another parallel between churches and the people that God indwells.
It is an accepted fact that because of our sinfulness, there are times when people truly need to repent and “turn around” and come back to our Lord. The same is true for God’s churches. Sometimes, a church needs to experience a spiritual “turn around” and return to our Lord and His direction.
There is a lot of discussion about “turn around” churches. Like some believers, some churches need to turn around for moral failure(s). Some churches need a turn around because of a need for a focus change in their community of ministry. Other churches suffer from attrition due to generational issues. Quite simply put, their membership is promoted to heaven and very few members are left behind. Each of these types of churches and others in differing categories are all in need of a major revitalization effort. As with Christians, no situation is beyond the help of the Master. God wills for all of His churches, just like with all of His children, to be healthy and productive for the Kingdom.
So what can we do when we notice a church in serious need for a “turn around?” Again, there are a number of parallels with the same need with Christians. One thing that we can do is to lovingly come along side of ailing churches, just as we would a believer in need of help. Anyone can stand off at a distance and criticize. We have all heard people comment that “that is just a bad church” or “they brought that on themselves.” If we react like that, we will earn the indictment, “the church is the only group who ‘shoot their wounded’!” Instead, if possible, try to console and encourage them. Where possible, we can offer some helpful hints for revitalization.
Second, we can definitely pray for those churches. We believe the Word, that with God all things are possible. If we truly believe that, then we should lift them up to God.
Third, we can attempt to pair a needy church up with a healthier church. Mentorship works well with Christians. Why not try it with a congregation in need. Prayerfully, there will be things that a healthy church can offer to assist their sister churches.
Sometimes, we as believers who have seriously strayed from our Lord, need to come to the altar, confess our sins and recommit our lives to His Lordship. We need to “remember how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.” (Rev. 2:5 HCSB). Sometimes, a church needs to do the same thing. We need to repent of corporate and individual sins. We need to recapture God’s vision for our church. We need to do the things God wants us to do and refrain from the sinful practices that got us into trouble. God can and will help us, but God does expect us to do whatever we can. If we observe our sister churches in such a condition, it is incumbent upon us to help them, just as we would a fellow believer.
The next time you hear of or see a church in an ailing position, please don’t criticize, complain or write them off. Avail yourself to our Lord and go and help them. God will provide the blessings and power to heal. It is His Will.