Skip to content

Is Your Church a Movement, Monument, or Mausoleum?

February 20, 2012

Ray Ortlund offers some wise and challenging reflections on the identity and aims of a local church. The implications of the following categories are huge and worth much reflection and prayer (especially for our flock at Westgate Church as we look eagerly to our new vision to be a gospel-centered community living every day on mission for Christ):

*****

Some years ago a friend of mine used these three simple categories to objectify the stages of a church’s rise and fall.

Movement

A healthy church is born as a burst of positive gospel energy.  As in the preceding post, it’s a Pentecostal explosion of joy, a vital gospel movement.  Such a church has a sense of mission, even a sense of destiny.  It’s exciting to be in this church.  Think of a steep upward trajectory.

Monument

Given human weakness, after a time, this movement becomes a monument.  The spirit of the church changes from hunger to self-satisfaction, from eagerness to routine, from daring new steps of faith to maintaining the status quo, from outward to ingrown.  It’s easy not to notice this shift.  The self-image of the church might still be that of a vital movement.  But deep within, everything has changed.  Think of leveling off.

Mausoleum

If this trend is not arrested, the church will decline and become a mausoleum, a place of death.  The church as an institution may have enough social momentum and financial resources to keep churning on.  But as a force for newness of life, it no longer counts.  Think of steep decline – indeed, a death spiral.

The responsibility of a church’s leaders is to discern when their movement is starting to level off as a monument.  It is at this crucial point that they must face themselves honestly and go into repentance and return to the costly commitments that made them great to begin with.  They may need to deconstruct much of what they have become, which is painful.  But if the leaders will have the clarity and courage to do this, their church will go into renewal and re-launch as a movement once more.  Jesus will become real again, people will be helped again, and those bold, humble leaders will never regret the price they paid.

“Remember from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.  If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”  Revelation 2:5

******

Related Articles: Change: Obstacle or Opportunity?

 

 

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: