Paul spoke of the “simplicity” in Christ.
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3
God made things simple for man, but man chooses to complicate them. Adam’s first orders were extremely simple:
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17
It didn’t take Adam and Eve long to get this simple plan complicated. It speaking with Satan (Genesis 3:2-4), Eve omitted the word “freely,” added the words “neither shall ye touch it,” and changed “shalt surely die” to “lest ye die.”
We are inundated with books, magazines, periodicals and articles on today’s church being in crisis. We have all of these experts telling us what is wrong with today’s church, and just like Eve, tend to lay the blame any place but their own laziness and disobedience.
Listen carefully, whether it be a dull fundamental church singing anthems or a new church with a night club atmosphere, whether the pastor and staff dress in pressed suits or wear slouchy clothes, whether they have Sunday School or ABF’s, Paul’s plan for church planting, building and growing was as simple as 1, 2, 3.
- Study God’s word – 2 Timothy 2:15 (not a demographic study to keep the church from attracting the poor or uncomely. Bible study is God talking to us.
- Pray – Philippians 4:6 – Pray is us talking to God. We must be careful not to monopolize the conversation.
- Take the gospel to the lost – Proverbs 11:30; Acts 22:15 We used to call this witnessing or soulwinning, but men keep changing the terminology in order to make this service more palatable to the flesh.
Both the natural man (lost) and the carnal man (backslidden) hate these three things and today’s experts have set up straw men to attack. Instead of returning to the basics, the “new elite” create phony problems. One of the popular phony themes is that if the old-time Bible-believing-stick-the-mud folks would get out of the way, lost people would flood the church. May I address that thinking?
- If they are really Bible believers they will be very interested in lost souls. All others are just Pharisees, talking the talk but ignoring the walk.
- If you really want to see how the lost react to Jesus Christ, read Mark 5:15-17: ”And they come to Jesus…and they were afraid…and they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.” Nobody, in anyone’s culture, has ever and will never seek after God (Romans 3:11,)
Anyone with intellectual honesty can look at descent of the local church and will find that the church eliminated the three things above. If these were not totally eliminated, they overloaded one at the expense of the other two. Some churches just studied, but never put the study into practice. Others prayed long and hard, but their prayers obviously did not move them to do anything. We’ve all heard, “Lord, if there be any lost here, please save them.” If we really cared for the lost, we would have made sure there were some there! Others have gone everywhere witnessing, but when their religious adrenalin played out, they went back to their rut.
Whatever culture Paul was in, he preached the same message with the same methods. Paul’s goal was pretty simple:
“Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2:4-5
There is nothing about world peace, racial inequities, cultural conflicts, combating AIDS or helping people feel good about themselves. Just 1-2-3.
For those who have seen their crowds decline, it might be prudent to review the situation when your church was at its peak. What were you doing when it was growing? What programs did you have then that you do not have now (like personal visitation? What types of messages were being preached? What kind of music did you have? Don’t hold your breath until they do that. That would reasonable, practical and simple.
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing…” Romans 7:18
Therein lies the problem.
“My son, fear thou the Lord and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change.” Proverbs 24:21
Keep Looking Up!