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Some Thoughts On The Dead Church - article

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Some Thoughts On The Dead Church

            Some have been saying for many years that the churches of Christ were a dying breed. We were told that our numbers would continue to sink and that, in a short time, churches would slip beneath the murky waters of failure. Our doctrine, we were told, was too strict, too firm and just not appealing to the modern man or woman. Our youth were said to be running from our assemblies in droves just as soon as they reached 18. There was no hope, no future for the Lord’s church.

            Into this dismal swamp waded a few supposedly forward thinking men who knew just what we needed to do to “save the church.” We needed to change our thinking; we needed to modernize our doctrine. They told us it would be easy because all we had to do was look at the denominations. They, of course, were much wiser than we and they had the secrets to success and growth. Of course, such a move would require a few doctrines. We needed to quit worrying about pianos and promptly add praise teams to our worship. After all, the singing will be better with a little “professional help.” We do want to be pleasing to those who visit don’t we?

            Our swamp saviors weren’t finished by any means. Next they suggested that if we would loosen up a bit on the baptism thing, people might be more interested in attending our services. They reasoned that no one wants to be told what to do so we would just declare that God’s grace was sufficient to cover them regardless of what they might want to do. In fact, what we should really do is stop competing for the souls of men with our Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal friends and be more like the First-Come-And-Let-Me-Entertain-You Community church down the street. There was one more little thing we needed to do: Change our name. We really don’t want any vestige of what we used to be hanging around – that’s dead weight, old baggage.

Now the transformation is complete and we can rise like swamp gas from the stagnant waters of our old doctrine. Of course, no one really noticed, but the church that was crafted by our mortal reformers was no longer the church of Christ; it was no longer the church that belonged to Christ. The completely made over church was crafted in the template of the temporary. It would be good only until man changed again. No stability, no foundation, only the shifting sands of men’s ideas.

But along the way these encountered resistance from a few frogs who had no desire to be plucked from their swamp and made into princes. The result is a church that remains strong and remains dedicated to serving Jesus Christ his way. The church is growing and will continue to grow because we are wed to the truth of the Word of God. We have no desire to mimic an entertainment venue but simply to direct our worship, that is, worship for every individual and not just a few pros, heavenward. We seek the approval of God Almighty and His Son Jesus Christ. Make no mistake, we are to worship God in truth (John 4:23). Those who worship him in truth are called “true worshippers” by Jesus himself.

Are there things that we at Eastern Shore could do differently? Yes there are! Are there some aspects of modern life that we can use to attract people so that we may have the opportunity to teach them the truth? Absolutely! But what we must never do is exchange the purity of God’s word for the doctrines of men (Mark 7:7).  Because if we save a man according to the doctrine of a man, we still have a man. God’s salvation makes saints; for me that is the true goal. What about you?

Bryant Evans

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