Leighton Ford’s comment below catalyzed some thinking about our current American church’s “altared state” and decline of influence. The most common condition of the US church today is the descent of our faith into a kind of spiritual stupor.
Unfortunately, this marks men of all occupations. Do the hard work, take the risk of the unknown, and build up a self-sustaining ministry–or business–through a daily exercise of faith.
Once the thrill–and the pressure–is gone, a form of “mothering” or nesting begins to creep into a man’s sense of right and wrong, often corrupting our calling.
It begins to rear its head in our conversations and dinner tables as a subtle exchange of great for good. Enterprising, high-risk, high reward Kingdom advancing ventures are subrogated by the calmer, more rational “good” of calmer seas demarking our family life as a place of no risk and no friction.
Then we see as our contemporaries [heroes and competitors] of faith settle down. We also observe others of “the called out” begin to develop shortcuts, turning vision into objectives. Life’s once impossible purposes yield to the attraction of either a 3-day workweek or such a frenetic schedule that effectively mutes the voice of God and immediate family..
A True Shepherd’s courageous willingness to lay down his life for his sheep–can easily play too well into a mentality that a “good shepherd” means the grind of circling the wagons and building a fence around our congregation–for their sake [and also to protect our salary].
What went wrong?
Over 1,600 years ago we lost the Living Water rights that created streams in the desert for thirsty souls be killing off three of the five leadership roles God inspired the early Church to govern by. Without active, participative, and honored Apostles, Prophets, and Evangelists to challenge and stretch and shake us up, only the Pastor, or sometimes Teacher is left in charge.
The FEAR of not enough, of engaging a noble controversy, or being thought less of, lulls us into a dream state of spiritual stupor. Only a jealous Father-God is able to awaken us.
The attrition of spiritual vigor and emotional muscle will always occur when “peace and safety” become our definition of “good” and our mindset, and predictable comfort our objective.
As Jesus visited 7 post-apostolic churches in Revelation 2-3, warning them to “Repent!” and “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die,” and “do the former things” he, still knocking at the door, looking for us to “remember” and embrace the sweet, yet wildly unpredictable kinship he once had with us at his Table.
Art Hobba, Founder Core 300