Lesson IX Factors that Block Spiritual Passion
1. Puritanism: Christians influenced by puritan values view growth in faith as a process of becoming more and more aloof to external things. The motto could be "No images, no art, no cultural activities, no music, fast rather than feast.
2. Animosity Against Institutions: These folks believe that any discovery of spiritual gifts or emphasis on prayer must be spontaneous. Any planned activities are looked at with suspicion.
3. Righteousness by Works: Legalistic tendencies in various forms that always build on the premise that we have to earn our salvation.
4. Fatalism: This belief in fate is typical of many non-Christian religions.
It has intruded into Christianity. It centers in the idea that everything we experience is God-sent. Therefore, we must submit to whatever happens in order to be in God's will. Freewill is removed.
5. Feelings of Inferiority. This is the "worm such as I" syndrome. Negative preaching is common. Leadership motivates by guilt. This attitude makes it nearly impossible to enjoy the Christians faith.
6. Whimsical Pleasure: Noise and entertainment are not signs of spiritual passion. Some pastors are afraid if they ask their members to commit that they will lose them. It is in dedicated and committed service that we find one of the most powerful sources of happiness.
7. Magical Expressions: Some pious faith practices are really nothing more than a ritualistic belief that God can be manipulated.
8. Ecstasy Dependency: There is a danger in the type of Christianity that feeds off one extraordinary experience that must then be surpassed by the next one.
Characteristic 4: Functional Structures
"The Sabbath was made for men, not man for the Sabbath." Mark 2:27
The most important criterion for forms and structures in the church is that they fulfill their purpose. Church structure is a means to an end. Many congregations are in a structural rut. The goal is to develop structures that can under gird the process of church development.
Traditionalism demands that structures remain the same. They are static and tend to be technocratic. As a result the structures may have lost their intended function. However, we hold on to the old form because it is comfortable. Traditionalism is one of the most significant negative correlations with church growth.
Little things can make a big difference. Something as non-spiritual as the sign on your front lawn can affect the growth of your church. Your church name says a great deal about whom you are and whom you wish to reach. If it includes a denominational or culturally charged word, you will appeal only to those who identify with that denomination or who don't care.
While helping to start church in Tucson, Arizona I saw a "slap you in the face" example of how a name can radically change who attends your church. Midvale Park Baptist Church averaged 65 at a Sunday worship service. The church was two years old. The neighborhood was middle class. The subdivisions were starter homes. The demographic make up was 75% Anglo and 25% English speaking Hispanic. The congregation met in a middle school. The church was plateaued. The pastor was a nice young man but was floundering. He decided that a name change would help the church.
In hopes of reaching more Hispanics, the church was renamed "Casa de Dios". The attendance immediately fell to 35. The Anglos thought it was a Hispanic worship service. The English speaking Hispanics thought it was a Spanish worship. So neither attended.
All church structures have been invented by humans. They can consequently only be changed by people. The leadership team bears a large responsibility for the functional structure.
Your mission statement should determine the structure of your church. For example: A senior adult church will not need a nursery committee. A GenX church will want to have an activities leader.