In the final chapter of The Church Awakening, Swindoll offers hope and counsel for churches and individuals who have abandoned ship but are looking to reconcile their sin.
As Swindoll sees it, the famine plaguing the church today is not of bread and water but a famine of the Word of God. People are hungry for the truth, and when churches only offer up wax fruit and artificial ingredients, they leave searching to satisfy the hunger elsewhere.
The wolves of post-modernism have invaded the pantry, and now houses of worship that once were places of feasting have become places of famine. The dinner bell rings each Sunday… beautiful tables are set with fine china and silverware and fabulous decor- but there is no solid food served, only junk food. Everyone leaves hungry. (pg. 239)
So why is this? What has happened to cause the famine? Swindoll offers a few hard facts:
1. Pastors Have abandoned their posts.
The time spent weekly by pastors has little if any to do with pastors have done for over 20 centuries. They have become business leaders, employers, or shopkeepers – concerned with how to keep the customers happy, how to keep them out of their rivals shops, and how to “market” their message to their customers so they will “spend” more money. (Paraphrased from a quote of Eugene Peterson pg. 241)
2. The Bible is merely a springboard.
No longer is the Word of God taught and preached in its proper context. The Bible has become a source to back up the editorial coming from the pulpit.
3. There are boars in the vineyard.
There are individuals within the church that are continually causing problems and adding pressure to the leadership, based upon their personal preferences and their influence with other members. Swindoll shares about the time he had a member within the leadership of the church threaten him with a loaded pistol. These are the ones who are always stirring things up.
So how do we turn the church around?
1. The People of God Must Return to a Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness
We need to stand up and commit to righteousness, that can only be found in the Word of God.
2. The Ministers of God Must Repent of Their Failure to Fulfill Their Calling
When doctors fail to do their jobs, it’s called malpractice. When investors take advantage of those who trust them, its called fraud. When pastors fail to rightly handle the Word of Truth, its no different than either.
3. The house of God Needs to Represent Its Biblical Purpose for Existence
It’s a house of prayer, not a house for business. It’s a place of worship, not a place for entertainment. It’s a house of refuge and hope.
Quotations are from The Church Awakening, Charles Swindoll, Faith Words-Hachette Book Group, 2010