Editor's Note: Daniel Thompson is reacting here to an article on the Christian Century's blog network comparing the Redskins losses this season to the dying church. The piece by Albany, N.Y. associate pastor Alan Rudnick is titled "Robert Griffin III, the Redskins, and dying churches"
I think Mr. Rudnick made a nice parallel between RG3 (Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III) and the dying church, however, I don’t think he got close to what the problem in the church is today nor the remedy for the dying church. When he refers to the church, I’m assuming he’s referring to the body of believers who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, came to earth as an atonement for the sins of humanity, and come together to worship and proclaim the “Good News” of salvation through Christ. If he’s referring to the “Christian” church, I would offer just a couple of thoughts I believe he should have included in his column.
First, in 2 Chronicles 7:14 God provides the prescription for his church (at that time the children of Israel represent the “children” of God or “the church”) which also applies to his church today (followers of Jesus Christ) with these words: “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
So, there are four requirements for God’s people and the church to follow when they are in a declining/dying mode:
- longing for God
Second, in the Book of Revelation, Jesus speaking through the Apostle John, makes it clear what is expected of the “dead” church at Sardis and the “lukewarm” church of Laodicea. To the dead church at Sardis, he instructs with these words in Revelation 3:3: “so remember what you have received and heard (the Gosple); and keep it, and REPENT. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.” Then, in verse 16 of chapter 3 Jesus states: “so because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”
The prescription found in verse 19 is the same as God told His church in 2 Chronicles, “REPENT.”
I believe Mr. Rudnick got close to some of the problems of a dying church in the words I highlighted below, but sadly, he does not address the real problem in most churches today – repentance of sin and focus on the life-long process of sanctification. As an Evangelical Christian, I believe scripture is inspired, inerrant, infallible, sufficient, and eternal.
If pastors will teach of the Bible, those in the church will be convicted of their sin and REPENT.
Only then can God revive a dead and lukewarm church.