Thom Rainer nails it with this quote. I agree 100%. What I like most about this quote is that it has nothing to do with church numbers. A church can be growing week by week, month by month and still be dying. Real “life” when it comes to churches has to be based on spiritual vitality and vibrancy, not numerical growth.
What struck me most though, is when having this conversation or posting a quote like this to a picture why does our mind automatically go to old, small churches? Is it really only older churches that have a tendency to put their preferences over their passion for the gospel? I think not.
With a changing age it is just easier to pick on those churches. We say, “Clearly, they are guilty of this as they are holding onto the past and only care about their traditional worship and keeping up the status quo.”
Let’s ask another question… “Are there not megachurches full of church members whose personal preferences are greater than their passion for the gospel?” Of course there are, they just prefer loud, dynamic music accompanied by smoke and a laser show. Thom Rainer is absolutely correct, when that happens a churches spiritual vitality and vibrancy begins to die. This is happening all over in America, in churches numerically small and large that vary in all different types of worship, styles, and philosophies.
One of the most vibrant churches I have had the pleasure of being a part of is quite traditional. We sat in our pews every Sunday, worshipped to more traditional music, and were surrounded by people both young and old. One of the most spiritually dead churches I have been a part of had music as contemporary as it gets and was over 900+ people. It was growing and growing, year by year. No one would have said it lacked spiritually vibrancy at the time, but after a very rough last several years the proof is in the pudding.
We often say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” We ought to apply this to how we stereotype churches as well. Old, traditional churches can be absolutely filled with spiritual life and vibrancy. The Megachurches that are sprouting up everywhere across America can have very little spiritual life and vibrancy.
We build a lot of churches, only God builds churches that have deep spiritual life. The best way to make sure you are a part of a church that isn’t dying, is to be spiritually vibrant yourself. Ask yourself, “Does my passion for the gospel far outweigh my personal preferences?” The two healthiest churches I have ever been a part of are very different when it comes to style and philosophy of ministry. Yet, what they have in common is they are made up of people whose passion for the gospel far outweighs their personal preferences.
Church size and church style? They mean very little. A church made of people whose passion for the gospel outweighs everything else? Yeah, that can be world changing.