As I am launching into a study of the letters to the seven churches listed in Revelation 2-3, the question of “dead or alive” jumps out at me. In general these letters to the seven churches address the problems inherent in churches throughout church history and are an incisive and comprehensive revelation of how Christ evaluates local churches. This portion of Scripture has been strangely neglected. While many turn to the epistles of Paul and other portions of the New Testament for church truth, often the letters to these seven churches, though coming from Christ Himself and being climactic in character, are completely ignored. Remember, it is possible to be a busy church with an irregular, and unhealthy heartbeat.
May I share a list of practical evidences of the heart condition of your local church: (unknown source)
Live churches’ expenses are always more than their income; dead churches don’t need much money!
Live churches have parking problems; Dead churches have empty spaces!
Live churches may have some noisy children; Dead churches are quiet as a cemetery.
Live churches keep changing their ways of doing things; Dead churches see no need for change!
Live churches grow so fast you can’t keep up with people’s names; In dead churches everybody always knows everybody’s name.
Live churches strongly support world missions; Dead churches keep the money at home!
Live churches are full of regular, cheerful givers; Dead churches are full of grudging tippers!
Live churches move ahead on prayer and faith; Dead churches work only on sight!
Live churches plant daughter churches; Dead churches fear spending the money, time, and talent!
Live churches outgrow their Sunday School facilities; Dead churches have room to spare!
Live churches welcome all classes of people; Dead churches stick to their own kind!
Live churches’ members read their Bibles and bring them to church; Dead churches’ members seldom do!
Live churches’ members enthusiastically support the ministries; Dead churches have no ministries–only functions!
Live churches’ members look for someone they can help; Dead churches’ members look for something to complain about!
Live churches’ members reach out to share their faith in Christ; Dead churches’ members don’t have enough to share!
Why are our churches often more defined by the dead characteristics listed above than those of a living, dynamic organism? I truly believe that neglect of these final epistles in Revelation has contributed to churches today not conforming to God’s perfect will. It is striking how many churches suffer from heart disease in smug indifference or willful ignorance. Here at North Pointe Baptist Church, we are digging into these letters to get the right Person monitoring the heart of our church-starting with the pastor. Would you join us in your own serious study of these precious chapters?
Here are two areas a “busy church” should ask for Christ’s evaluation:
1. “Where is our church at in the area of love?”
In the first letter, Christ admonishes His “labouring” local church, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Revelation 2:6)
2. “Where is our church at in the area of lukewarmness?”
In the last letter, Christ confronts His “wealthy” local church, “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15)
May I plead with local church pastors, deacons, and members to ASK CHRIST to evaluate the “pulse” of your church. Remember its not about your filled-to-the-corners church calendar or twelve page bulletin filled with every ministry possible; it is ultimately defined by your heart-level relationship with Jesus Christ! Don’t take my word for it; listen to the loving lips of our LIVING, heart-for-the-world Savior! By the way He offers hope to any dying church, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen.” (Revelation 1:18)
What other questions would you add that help us hear Christ’s evaluation of the local church pulse?