“A mortician can make a dead man look better than he ever did living. Sometimes the church experts can do that to a church but it doesn’t give real life to it.” – Vance Havner
There is nothing miraculous about a growing congregation, unless they are a growing part of the church. Congregation growth is not a sign of congregation health, regardless of what the ‘experts’ say. The sign of the health of a congregation is holiness. Growing a congregation is relatively easy. You can go into a community and ask what they would like the church to be, after that you shape it exactly they way they want it, and bang! Like magic you have a growing congregation. The first person I know of that did this really well was Robert Schuler, after him came your Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, and Bill Hybels, among others. Now, am I saying that there is no new life in these congregations? No, there likely is some new life, but there is far less life than there appears to be. Today’s ‘successful’ preachers are often nothing more than morticians skilled in the art of making dead things appear to live.
Let’s be honest, it is not just the preachers doing this, it is the rest of us as well. Have we not succumb to the temptations in our various ministries to proclaim success we have not had, or at least to make things appear more alive than they really are. Do we rejoice when someone appears to be alive before we have any idea whether or not they have a Holy Spirit pulse? Are there areas in your life that you are propping up as alive and vibrant, but if someone were to examine and touch them they would find no pulse at all? Are there areas like this in my life?
Enough with this ‘mortuary Christianity’ that only seeks to make dead things appear to have life! We must be sick of it, we must repudiate it, and we must seek to destroy it. Pray for revival in your life, your congregations, and your spheres of influence. Teach, preach, and live the new life, real and vibrant, let go of all that is dead. Prune the branches that do not bear fruit, so that the rest of the tree may be health and that new life may spring forth.