Francis Chan has a sermon “Lukewarm and Loving It.” I wish everyone would watch it. I know most people who read this won’t. It is about 40 minutes, but is not boring and you will not be sorry. A friend of mine said estimates are that 75% of the people in church in the United States on an average Sunday have not had a conversion experience. It’s not a statistic that will hold up in court, but I’m convinced it’s pretty close. Yet it can be debated whether people have simply lost their passion for Jesus and become lukewarm or if they never really had it to begin with. And many, if not most, churches are dead or dying because of lukewarm or unconverted people and because of our pastoral leadership.
In his book A Second Resurrection, Bill Easum reminds us that in the Old Testament if priests were to touch a dead person the priest was considered unclean and thus unholy and unfit to lead the people. He says that pastors who are around spiritually dead people too long become unfit to lead, and that the one thing a pastor must not do is to remain the pastor of a spiritually dead church. He says pastors who want to be one of God’s leaders have two choices in a particular church: be a part of resurrecting that church or get out of it.
I don’t know if some pastors have just been around dead people so long that they have given up or if they never had the passion for Jesus in the first place, but I see and hear about pastors who’ve lost that loving feeling. The secretary where I used to work said that it seemed like every Sunday morning her preacher would say, “I know we’re all tired and we want to get out of here this morning so I’ll make this short.” WHAT?
I understand that everyone shows/exhibits/has passion differently. I’m not judging you individually. You know if you do or do not have love and passion for Jesus, whether you are clergy or part of the church. But if people are honest, many will say they have no passion for Jesus. Now I’m probably preaching to the choir here because if you are one of the few who are a faithful reader of this blog, you are probably not spiritually dead. You probably read this in addition to all the other things you do to grow closer to Jesus. But there aren’t very many who come here to read what God’s laid on my heart. And I’m not saying that you have to come to my blog to prove you’re not dead. But if people never do anything but come to church, or come to church half the time, or never go to church, that’s not a good sign.
In addition to being a pastor, I’m also trying to walk and live a Jesus-filled spiritual life myself. Personally, what I do not want is to be around spiritually dead people for so long that I become like them. I’m certainly not saying everyone in our church is spiritually dead. But I worry that many might be. If you are not spiritually dead, you probably look around the church you worship with and agree that many are. And the madder you get about what I’ve said, the more likely it is that I’ve struck a nerve and that’s good.
The blessing and the curse for me is I believe that without Jesus, people are in serious trouble. I believe that living for Jesus is a life and death matter. I believe people will perish without Jesus. I do not believe Jesus is one way to God, but THE WAY to God. I believe that it’s not enough to believe in Jesus, but we must be converted, giving our heart to Him, allowing Him to enter our heart, and living our lives for Him. And many people, especially those outside the church, but even some in the church, do not appear to be living for Jesus.
I started to type, “I wish I was a pastor that wasn’t bothered by all this…” but I don’t wish that at all and I pray I never accept lukewarm or dead spirituality for myself or those I lead. I am thankful to God that I have a passion and love for Jesus and for the world that gives me the courage to post blogs like today and give sermons like the one He has given me for tomorrow. If you don’t go to church and live in the bend area, we meet at 9:45 tomorrow.
“I am not accusing any of you…But if you go ‘just because I serve in a lukewarm way and I give in a lukewarm way and I pray in a lukewarm way, it doesn’t mean I’m lukewarm.’ Alright. Just go to God and ask, ‘Am I?'” ~ Francis Chan