Recently, I’ve found myself trying to figure out what is wrong with Christianity. While there are small pockets of the Church that seem to be healthy, vibrant, and growing (especially overseas), overall the Christian Church seems to be losing ground. And as I’ve been trying to figure out this great problem, I’ve found myself coming back to one word…action!
While I’m not going to take the time to do a lot of in-depth research on this, it is my considered opinion that action is the main difference between healthy, vibrant, growing churches and sick, dull, dying chongregations. Where we see action, we find life. Where we see inactivity, we find death.
There are movements in the church trying to address this very issue. We are trying to revitalize dead churches. And, at the same time, in areas where we find the churches are beyond resurrection, we are attempting to plant churches. If the revitalization and planting processes are not surrounded by action, the churches will eventually fade away.
For some, death is a quick process. For others, it’s quite drawn out. The death of a church is too often linked to a failure to act. Churches forget the call to care for the sick, the needy, the wounded, the disenfranchised, the over-looked, the outcasts, the poor, the orphaned, the widowed, the least of these. We get caught up in self-care (what have you done for me lately) and forget that life is found in what we are able to give.
Many come to church and nod along in agreement with sermons that call us into action. But, by the end of lunch, we’ve already moved past the message and onto our selfish plans for the week.
So, is it the churches fault for not providing sufficient ministry opportunities? Potentially. Or does the problem lie with those of us receiving the word? We hear the call. We understand the call. But, we fail to act on the call.
Of course, action is about more than saving a dying church. Action is about bringing life and joy to our world! Action isn’t about church growth and financial gains. Action is about loving God and loving our neighbors in practical and tangible ways.
As the Church, we have to figure out how to move people from knowledge to action. We have to discover how to make sure that messages that stick are translated into our daily lives. Action is the tangible proof that we get it.
As I’ve been thinking about this, I’ve stumbled upon some phrases dealing with action. I’ll share a few with you.
Love needs to be proved by action. – Saint Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul
Once one has experienced LSD, existential revolution, fought the intellectual game-playing of the individual in society, of one’s identity, one realizes that action is the only reality; not only reality but morality as well. – Abbie Hoffman, Revolution for the Hell of It (you don’t have to do LSD to realize that action is essential)
Action is one of the most efficient instruments for bringing about the triumph of ideas among the masses. – Major Fidel Castro Ruiz, speech on August 10, 1967 (a somewhat unexpected source)
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. – Albert Einstein (how many times do we pass up opportunities to do good?)
“Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, in every place you can, at all the times you can, with all the zeal you can, as long as ever you can”- John Wesley (some wise advice)