A writer for the popular theology website Desiring God has identified three symptoms of a “dying church” and shared how the Body of Christ can “self-diagnose” its health and work toward healing.
In a recent article titled “Three Symptoms of a Dying Church: How to Diagnose Your Own Local Body,” Pastor David Gibson warned that one of the “defining marks of a dying church is that the people in it don’t realize it’s dying.”
“They don’t know they’re on a one-way journey to the ecclesiastical morgue. There is enough about the church that makes it seem alive and worth showing up to each week, but the symptoms of death pervade,” he said.
Drawing from the New Testament book of James, Gibson identified three symptoms of a dying church, beginning with quarreling and uncontrolled tongues within the Body of Christ.
He cited James 1:19, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” and James 1:26, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”
“James tells us ‘these things ought not to be so’ (James 3:10), but he is having to write precisely because these things can be so,” Gibson said. “People get burnt. And uncontrolled tongues are just a symptom, not the disease.”
The second sign of a dying church is when it begins drawing “ugly lines” and “loves partiality,” according to Gibson.
“It has favorites. The rich over the poor, the haves over the have-nots,” he said. “It is honoring certain types of people and dishonoring others. There is an in-crowd in this church and an out-crowd; there is an attraction to the people with means, wealth, and status.”
Even if such socioeconomic dividing lines don’t clearly exist in a church, “we draw lines in plenty of other ways,” he warned.
“It’s what makes us feel safe in physical spaces and social groups, and what causes us to bond with some and ignore others. We draw lines between men and women, students and old people, married and single, employed and unemployed, and no doubt a myriad of other ways too.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett