There are real dangers to long-term membership status in the Church.
I don’t wish to confront the faithful, this is just a reminder and a warning to us all.
If I am pointing fingers I must realize I have fingers pointing right back at me as well.
The body of Christ can be an extremely powerful thing!
We are His bride, His hands and feet here on earth.
When we put of our hearts and efforts into reaching our neighborhoods, great things will happen through the power of the Holy Spirit! But what happens when the church stops functioning as it should? What do we do when there is little to no motivation to get out of the doors of that church; when those doors and walls, and everything else in the church are just safety blankets to a frightened bride of Christ?
Today, I would like to explore four very real disconnects that every church faces from time to time.
-It can effect us too if we are not careful.
-It can effect our vision and vitality of our corps.
-It can effect our leaders, our soldiers, our adherents.
These disconnects are dangerous if not treated and our hearts are not reconnected to our power source – The Holy Spirit.
4 Disconnects 2 Avoid:
- Worn –
We’ve all seen it before.
It manifests itself through the Sunday school teacher who has been teaching for 40 years…
It manifests itself through the local officer who is just tired of performing the same role.
It manifests itself through the corps officer who is also tired of being “pastor”, friend, counselor…There are many other examples in which the disconnect of being worn can present itself.
It’s very common.
Burn out is real.
Officers, Soldiers, Local Officers and even Adherents experience this.
How do we avoid it?
Sometimes you can’t…I just need to say that first.
We have this “Army” mentality and with it comes this notion that we can just plow through any obstacle that comes our way. In order to avoid this disconnect we have to realize that even soldiers need to find rest to recharge. Every one of us needs to seek out Sabbath days, find mountain top moments in which to pray, relax, get away from it all and just unwind.
I have seen Officers who are definitely worn – I’ve been one of them from time to time.
You can come back from being worn, but its harder to come back from being broken because you let the worn disconnect go too long. Recognize the warning signs, and intentionally get away from it all for a bit.
- Apathy –
I have to admit that I am the least tolerant to this disconnect.
I cannot stand the perceived “I don’t care” mentality that can sometimes penetrate the church.
Sometimes it happens without thinking – “If it doesn’t effect me, then I’m not going to worry and/or do anything“.It becomes “Us” and “Them”. The church versus those outsiders, those sinners, those people…those…who aren’t as good as we are…but it doesn’t stop there, it becomes this uncaring environment for the outsider and the unchurched. “Well, they don’t come to our doors, it must be because they have chosen to reject God.” -This thought process is sort of an escape clause to play church but never really being the church that Christ intended and actually GO OUT to meet people. You might as well take down the cross and any other symbols you have of the “Christian” faith and adopt some sort of club status because that’s what you have become.
Faithful followers of Christ do not have time to be apathetic to the plight of hurting and lost people in our communities. It’s not a social club. This isn’t an exclusive membership club either. We can’t pretend to help but never actually do any helping…
- Know It All
This disconnect that annoys me to no end, it’s the “I know it all” mentality.
It can happen to any of us if we aren’t careful. We have spent years in church. We know all the stories from the bible. We know all the right ways to pray. We know all the right words to say as we lead parts of the service on Sunday, or lead a bible study, or Sunday school…we know, we know, we know…and yet we know nothing.
-We know nothing of complete surrender.
-We know nothing of true self-denial.
-We know nothing of true compassion.
We’ve played church for so long that we have become unteachable.
We could listen to a thousand sermons
We could hear a thousand renditions of Amazing Grace and other church songs
We could hear every bible study, every scripture reading, every heart felt prayer;
and because, deep down, we are unteachable (we know it all) we are horribly disconnected.
The Holy Spirit would have to take a jack-hammer to the heart of the “know it all” just to get through.
Oh that we would just soften our hearts once more and open our ears!
Soldiers, friends, be careful that you don’t become the “know it all” officer or soldier!
- Selfishness & Power
The last disconnect within this pondering today is the disconnect of selfishness and hunger for power. Sometimes these are mutually exclusive and sometimes not. It’s about what I can get out of my corps. It’s about how I can get more. It’s about me, me, me. Look at me, look how good I am. Self-preservation is okay up to a point. We should take care of ourselves. We should be clean, and eat and go to the doctor, but what happens when everything we do is about ourselves?
NEWSFLASH: If we are Christians, if we are soldiers, then we are no longer living for ourselves, but we live for Christ and others. “The old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). If we are a new creation, where does this selfishness go? Where does our lust for power go?The disconnect of power doesn’t necessarily speak about high ranking officers either, it speaks about anyone who would lord their status and position over someone else, whether that be at the corps level, the divisional level, the territorial level or even the international level. This disconnect is a temptation to be somebody. It’s about me…what I can do…who I am…what responsibilities I have and the power I can exploit to impose my will on others. Don’t think for a minute that this doesn’t exist in our army, for it certainly does. Where ever there are imperfect people in church, there will be this temptation…and guess what we’re imperfect people.
Plug back into the source power.
Get back to your first love which is Christ.
He must become increase and I must decrease.
Rest, Meditation upon His Word.
“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:3
- Questions to ponder:
Are you disconnected right now?
What sort of disconnect is it?
Can you find your way back?
Is there repentance that needs to take place?
Are you over working yourself?
What will it take to get reconnected to His power?
Is the Holy Spirit using a jack-hammer on your heart right now?Something more for this Army world to ponder today!
To God be the glory!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these ponderings on pastorspondrings.org are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Salvation Army.