The second chapter in the Church Awakening deals with the challenges, struggles and priorities in the church. There are so many in fact that they are borken down into two categories:
1. The struggles from within the church
2. The struggles from the outside of the church
The Struggles from Within
Swindoll addresses a problem that a lot of your larger churches face. The problem of professionalism.
The church is called to be a ministry, not a corporation. In many churches today there is the need to “handle” the growth and the needs of the those who are coming to the church.
The church concentrates on buildings and programs, seating and parking, choirs and offerings, staff and signs, and…If we’re not careful, we get so distracted by growing numbers and doing all it takes to maintain them, we overlook the most important issues. When that happens, we lose our values, our purpose, and our objectives. (pg. 28)
Another internal struggle that he calls out is the lack of integrity from within the church. Making his parallel to Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, he cautions on playing fast and loose with God. Our personal integrity is not a private matter as Christians. We are called to represent Christ and if one suffers, we all suffer. Our purpose is to set our minds on God’s interests, which after all, are our best interests.
I find this struggle affects churches both big and small. There is a mentality that we can live like the world during the week, and put on our Christian skin on Sunday morning and forget about what we did during the week. And we wonder why the world calls us hypocrites. Integrity is all but lost in today’s society especially when it comes to online integrity. The internet has given us the ability to explore and indulge in any type of lifestyle we want all from the privacy of our homes, and no one is the wiser, except God.
The Struggles from Outside the Church
You would think that the struggles from outside the church would be easy to identify, but Satan is a crafty little sucker. Slowly our government continues to inch their way into our churches through the passing of laws and amendments. This is nothing new. Swindoll gives a roll call of individuals throughout time who have had to square off with the authorities of the day: Moses, Daniel
Jesus, Paul, Martin Luther, John Knox, and many more. What makes today any different? Acts 5: 29 finds Peter stating that “we must obey God rather then men” and in the following passage they are flogged!
The challenge is to uphold God’s standard rather than men’s.
Swindoll lists how struggles and challenges enter the church:
- uncertainty of purpose
- blurred vision
- fuzzy priorities
- compromised values
- replacing volunteerism with professionalism
Swindoll warns ” The needs of ministry will always be greater than your ability to meet them. Always. Don’t let them distract you.”
He then goes on to give two principles to remember when facing struggles and challenges:
1. The adversary will stop at nothing to disrupt, and if possible, destroy the church.
2. The Lord will honor and bless any plan that upholds prayer and promotes His Word.
What are some specific challenges or struggles that plague your Church? What have you done to combat them?
Quotations are from The Church Awakening, Charles Swindoll, Faith Words-Hachette Book Group, 2010