When I first began attending a Christian church regularly four years ago, I had no idea there was such a thing as a dead church or even a church that is full of the Spirit. I didn’t even know what the Holy Spirit was. All I knew was that my soul was like dry bones and my spirit was crying out for the life quenching living waters. I had been desperately seeking God for years, I just couldn’t bring myself to call a higher power God. My whole life had been nothing but pain and despair, and as far as I was concerned, God was a major factor in all of it.
That first morning we sat in the pews of this strange place where I never thought a sinner like myself could fit in, I felt strangely at home. The worship band played rock-like music and the sermon was comfortable. A couple of weeks later however, the service changed from its norm and the Senior Pastor asked everyone to kneel at their pews and take a moment to think about our sin and ask for forgiveness. I had never had an opportunity to sit and think about the things I had done recently to hurt others in my life, let alone offend God.
Yet here I was, in a silent church hall, repenting of the sins against my husband, and family, and even to this God who I wasn’t even sure how I felt about. I was sobbing uncontrollably, thinking about the damage I had caused to my loved ones, and how terrible I had been towards God. I walked away feeling lighter; freer. There is something absolutely wonderful about coming to grips with the fact that you have not been perfect and you don’t ever need to be. You just need to be forgiven.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
As we attended services weekly, I became used to a certain style of service. I am a creature of habit, as I am sure we all are, and so I enjoyed the stability I became accustomed too. Then a few months later they changed the location of the service from the sanctuary to the gym. I was very unhappy about such a move, because I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to have a church service in a gym, when they had a beautiful sanctuary instead.
So my husband and I decided, reluctantly, to attend the earlier service, which was dubbed the ‘classic’ service. The classic service had a different feel to it, with a choir and hymns, instead of a worship band that played rock n roll style music. It also had an older congregation with less people our age. Neither my husband nor myself knew any of the hymns, but we soon grew to love the classic service as much as the modern service.
I came to see such a clash between the generations at this church. While the modern services were held in the gym, at the same time the classic service was held in the sanctuary. The older generations attended the classic, while the younger generations (for the most part) attended the modern service. The two generations hardly came into the same room, unless it was an all church service. It became very disconcerting to me, that the church was so full of strife.
from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
People fought and were angry about so many trivial topics, I was completely astounded. Some people were angry because the modern service had doughnuts and coffee, while others were angry because the service ran to long. Some were angry because they didn’t like the music and others were angry that the service was too casual. There was a war within the church and none of it had to do with Jesus at all, yet everything was done as if it was all for Him.
When we left this particular church I began to realize that the problems of the church extended far beyond this one church or even denomination. I saw so many wars and so much conflict on issues that absolutely tore people apart. People truly believed that the issues they were deeply concerned about were issues that affected God Himself. If God was unhappy with these issues, then they could not rest. What these people did not realize is God only has one issue He is concerned with: our hearts.
It was extremely painful to leave this church body. It had become our home, our family, our life. However, we had so many problems with witchcraft and spiritual abuse we had to leave. Once we began to get some healing and space from church in general, we began attending a new church. This church was the polar opposite of the previous church we attended. Each service was exactly the same. Same speaker, same songs, same casual attire. All ages and races were together, and everyone worshiped together without strife.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21
We really enjoyed the new atmosphere of this church, because there seemed to be more unity. However, we quickly began to notice that church seemed more like a show or entertainment event, then a church service.The stage was always set with a light show and a fog machine. The worship team and church leaders went out of their way to be casual and hip, so they could connect with a younger crowd. They premise was to create a counter culture to main stream church, but what they were really doing was creating a culture to a new god. Self.
While I enjoyed the new found freedom I had to move and express myself through worship, I also began to be filled with thoughts of self instead of thoughts of Jesus. It took me a long time to realize that the atmosphere was not truly creating a place of ushering in the Spirit, but of worshiping self. By creating an atmosphere where we are focusing on being comfortable and casual, we were really fostering self gratification.
When the worship leaders and the pastors become our idols, there is no room for Jesus to be the main attraction. We start putting our souls on the center stage, and ushering in the spirit of the anti Christ, not the Spirit of God. The church appears to be alive, because there is excitement and shouting and action all around, but the truth is for all the seeking we were doing, we were never connecting with the Holy Spirit. We were connecting with spirits of the anti Christ that appear to be like Christ.
This is not a new phenomenon. In fact, the dead church has been around since the Book of Revelation.
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
This is a warning to the churches of this age. If they do not wake up and repent, the churches that are on the verge of death are going to fall out of God’s grace and favor. Too many churches are relying on being led by the soul and not by the Spirit. They put on a show of being alive, but inside the walls are thousands of dead people, looking for hope and grappling onto the church out of blind desperation.
They are ever seeking, but never finding what they are looking for. They are being filled up, but wondering why they still feel so lost and confused. They are searching for the truth, but only finding more lies. The dead church is feeding on the people, instead of feeding the people. It’s spirit is crushing and manipulative, because it is soul driven. It is leading people astray, instead of leading them into life.
Death cannot heal or bring the power of resurrection. It can only bring more death. It is time for the church to wake up and recognize this mass movement is counter cultural to God Himself. Each one of us needs to seek the face of God for ourselves, so we can find out who He truly is. We need to stop relying on the church to teach us who God is, and start allowing Our Father to teach us instead. Only then can we begin to rebuild the church on the foundation of the Holy Spirit, and bring it back to life.
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15