Rudderless Churches of Today are Sinking Ships
(Printed by Herald and Banner Press July 2011)
Rudderless! That evokes memories of helplessness when my wife and I were sailing on a lake north of Phoenix. We had just acquired a new sail boat and was making sail westward across the lake. The winds were gusting and waves choppy. We were suddenly hit by a wind gust that heeled us over and as the sailboat returned to balance, a sudden and sharp wave hit the stern of the sailboat and popped the rudder out of my hand! We were out of control! We survived, but with much embarrassment and discomfort.
How many churches today are experiencing rudderless conditions? Is a church that worships with sensual dancing but does not teach repentance disintegrating? Is a church that promotes a health wealth concept of worship but excludes the concept of sin biblically adrift? Do churches that preach very little Gospel but function primarily as social centers meet the need for eternal balance? Do churches that accept all lifestyle orientations with little regard for teaching repentance meet the basic scriptural concept of forgiveness? If these are a picture of the Church today, it contradicts what we are told by the Apostle John in his letters to the churches in Revelation.
Of the seven churches written about in the first three chapters, only one was not scolded for its abusive practices. The church at Philadelphia was commended for its attitude and proactive approach to worship. It was a church that was focused upon the basic teachings of the Apostles. It was not one to incorporate the latest innovations from “progressive” church leaders. It was not one to short-circuit the good news that Jesus taught to His disciples. The center of attention was: what did God teach?
Why? Malachi 3:6 tells us this, “I the Lord do not change.” God has defined what worship is that pleases Him. He took great care to mark out the boundaries of what kind of worship was pleasing to Him. He outlined to the Children of Israel the pattern and style of worship that honored Him.
When Jesus came, He taught through parables and stories what God wanted and how He wanted it done. Jesus taught His disciples these principles. He taught them how to live them. Those principles have never changed over the centuries since Jesus lived here on earth. Innovation is good if it enhances the acceptance of Scripture, but it degrades Scripture if it corrupts, perverts or subverts God’s message of salvation by repentance.
God does not change His mind about what the Bible teaches. He does not condone disobedience. He is consistent and constant in what He wants believers to do. He will reject anything we do that is not in harmony with His Word. He is relentless in administration of justice to those who rebel against Him. He is Holy, he will not allow anything into His eternal kingdom that will dilute or pollute His commandments. He is intent in giving His plan of salvation to all who will listen. Those who rebel against Him will meet with His Judgment.
The prayerlessness of today’s Church grieves God because believers do not spend time in communion with Him. Without prayer, the Church of today is like a ship drifting on the storm tossed sea without a rudder. It is destined for destruction and a watery grave. It is powerless to combat the negative spiritual forces that are rampant in this present world gone mad. How can the Church as a body of believers survive if it is not focused upon the reason for Jesus’ death on that cross?
God is constant and unwavering in what He wants. He wants His rebellious children to be obedient to His desires. He wants communion with them and obedience from them. As we pray and preach, let us focus on the attributes of God. Our prayers should be a reflection of His timeless attributes.
When a church focuses on these attributes of God in fervent prayer, it has a sound rudder. It will weather the worst of storms. It will stand any assault of the enemy. Be sure your rudder is sound and you will never lose it.
By J R McElfresh, www.sqbooks.com