There is something about reading Chuck Swindoll. Whenever I read any of his works I hear his voice in my head. There is something about his voice, the way it squeaks when he gets excited, the way it half-whispers when he is admonishing, and I love to hear his infectious laugh. I have been listening to him since I was a child back in the early 80’s when I would go to work with my dad on his construction sites. At 10:30 every morning my dad would take his lunch break and we would sit and listen to Chuck Swindoll while we ate our lunch my mom had fixed for us. So every time I hear his voice, there is a familiarity and comfort that takes me back to those times.
As I began reading the first chapter in Swindoll’s book, I expected it to be much more of an introduction than for him to jump right in and get to the heart of the problem in today’ s church.
Erosion. It’s not something that happens quickly, but something that gradually takes place over time. Slowly our churches have been eroding from the model of the first church . When you hear about churches today that model the first century church, they’re called radical, but if we look to the Scriptures, they’re not all that radical compared to the first church. Today’s churches have eroded from what they set out to be, and they have either neglected or forgotten their values and vision.
Swindoll admits some of his personal failures in his current church, admissions of eroding from the value and vision. Through these admissions he also gives some warnings of how to stop the erosion and return to it’s natural state. But amongst the warnings he stresses the need for milestones in our churches- “deliberate times to look back at the church’s initial vision, to look within and evaluate the current situation, and then to look ahead to determine where the Scriptures say the church should be going.”(pg… 9)
Erosion occurs because of but is not limited to:
1. Not teaching the whole counsel of God- picking and choosing topics while avoiding difficult passages that are not popular.
2. Lack of fellowship – not potluck dinners and church events but the close relationships that involve sharing life with one another.
3. Not observing the ordinances – Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The first represents our conversion and the second represents our lifelong commitment. There is decline in both of these areas in our churches today.
4. No devotion to prayer – not just praying for the offering or at the benediction, but true communication with the Father corporately.
So Swindoll offers some suggestions on stopping the eroding process:
1. Clear, Biblical thinking must override, secular planning and a corporate mentality. Think spiritually!
2. Studied, accurate decisions must originate from God’s Word, not human opinions.
3. Wise, essential changes must occur to counteract any sign of erosion. Essential changes, not easy ones.
There is so much to take away from chapter 1 that I could keep going, but I believe if this has piqued your curiosity, you need to buy the book.
Have you noticed erosion in your church? What milestones does your church have?