Local churches close for a wide range of reasons. Economic changes, natural disasters, change of local culture, and poor leadership decisions are among the most common. But the greatest failure of any local church congregation is the failure to produce mature Christians.
In our culture we are facing a newly emerging, unnamed religion that is intolerant to the Gospel and the Christian faith. Without returning to our true mission of making disciples the Western Church will be overwhelmed by this new religion.
In ‘The Emotionally Healthy Leader’, author Peter Scazzero references this historical example;
“In the seventh century, the church in Arabia and North Africa appeared prosperous. They had a rich history going back to the first century. They were theologically sophisticated, boasted well-known leaders and bishops, and exercised considerable influence in the culture. Nonetheless, Islam advanced over these Christian churches in a very short time. Most church historians agree the church as a whole was beset by a superficial spirituality that was unable to withstand the intense assault of this new religion. Local churches were divided from each other over minor doctrinal points, refusing to recognize the presence of Jesus in those whom they differed. Moreover, they failed to translate the Scriptures into Arabic, the language of the people. As a result, while attendance was strong and the financial giving stable, people were not grounded in Jesus. Their lack of a spiritually solid foundation as churches led to a rapid collapse under the weight and pressure of an advancing, intolerant Islam.”
It is possible to overcome the fast approaching changes this culture is presenting by slowing down. By committing ourselves to learn from both contemplative tradition and writings of leaders through church history. If we allow the global church to teach us through diversity. Other believers, who are different than us in some ways, have much to teach us about such things as solitude, silence, and stillness with God as we strive to bring the Gospel message to those around us.
Rev. Burt Schwab