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Sunday, May 22, 2016
The Signs of a Sick Church
There is a fair probability that nearly every week, amongst every single COG congregation, there is at least one member who stops listening during the sermon to entertain that element of doubt that rises to the surface now and then. Next come the questions... "Am I really in the right place? Is this really the one true church? If not, why do they continue to state this directly or indirectly so often? How can it be the true church when there has been so much division? How can it be if the leaders seem more interested in tithes than the members? How can it be where so many 'truths' have changed over the years?"
Well, for anyone that may wonder whether they should continue attending their specific congregation(or organization), the folks at Bible Study.org have identified three signs that identify sick churches (which should be avoided). The following comes directly from their website (posting titled "Signs of a Sick Church"):
The first characteristic of a sick fellowship, church or even religion is that it tries to separate people from one another or even tries to separate themselves from the world. One way a separation of people takes place is when a church disfellowships a member or members (throws them out and tells them never to return). Those remaining in the group are then strictly warned to STAY AWAY from the disfellowshipped or else THEY TOO will be thrown out!
2. Taking more than giving
The second characteristic of a sick church is that it TAKES more than it GIVES. I have witnessed people who were so pressured by religious leadership to give, give, GIVE that they gave to the point of poverty. Members may be harangued to 'sacrifice' for a denomination all the while the leadership leads a life of relative luxury. There have also been cases where brethren were encouraged to donate such a significant amount of their time in order to "serve" the church that it jeopardized their marriage, family, finances and even their health.
The purpose of a true God-focused church is to ENLARGE and ENRICH the lives of those they are blessed to serve. Jesus made it crystal clear that those who are TRUE leaders in God's eyes are those who serve the needs of others (Luke 22:24-27). One of the purposes of Jesus coming to the earth was to show humans not only how to live, but to do so more abundantly (John 10:10). One must be very wary of sick churches or groups who take far more than they give.
The Fear factor
The third and final characteristic of a sick church is that it encourages fear more than courage and even love. When was the last time your pastor or minister encourage you to do great things for others? A true godly group appeals to your love so that you are motivated to feed those in need, clothe those who are in want, visit and take care of the sick and do good to your neighbor (Luke 10:29-37; Mark 12:28-31).
Beware of any church, fellowship or even religion that appeals to fear. The only 'good" fear is that of God.
The three cures for a sick religion:
1. Do not let a religious leader or church separate you from those you love, such as spouses, friends, family, or whomever.
2. Do not let a group make you worse off than when you arrived! If you find that they are taking from you far more than they are giving back then it might be time to leave.
3. Love is the cure for fear (1John 4:18). Do not let fear discourage you from fulfilling your responsibilities as a believer in Jesus Christ. A church or group is SICK if it feeds you more fear than the love of God.