Revitalize instead of run

With today being an election day, I've noticed that the disillusionment that many Americans on all sides of the political spectrum feel toward government institutions has perhaps never been so severe.  The idealistic notion that the next elected official will somehow be a political messiah no longer holds weight (not that it was ever true in the first place).  Discontent seems to be everywhere, that is if you believe the saliva-dripping media that can't wait to run to the next pile of vomit. Politics can be an ugly game to play and perhaps nothing can create as much angst against one's fellow man than a good ol' political argument at the dinner table. 

People respond in various ways to the dilemma that is politics.  Some withdraw completely, wanting nothing more to do with politicians that they believe are only looking out for their own interests and not that of the people.  There is another group that embraces politics to the point of being "eat up with it."  They have fields of three-foot high election signs in their yards and their voices are heard above the din of regular political banter.  Then there are those who I believe are the majority.  These people aren't excited about what is going on in American politics yet they will usually show up to vote because it is their civic duty and somewhere deep down inside they hope that their one vote will make change possible.

Today's church resembles the modern political scene in a lot of ways.  There are the good 'ol boys who, as long as they have influence inside the church building, aren't too interested in the system changing.  Then there are those who have abandoned the church altogether, giving up on what they believe is no longer a relevant institution, but making one wonder if they were ever truly committed to begin with.  However, the last two groups that I will describe are the ones that I feel are the most prevalent.

First, there are the runners.  These are Christians who get out while the gettin' is good.  Once trouble comes or something in the church is bad enough to bother them, they are out the door and will be attempting to plug into another church as soon as possible.  Why stick around to see if the mess gets cleaned up when you can run somewhere else that is already a whole lot cleaner and neater?  Their reasons for running away are often many:
  • In their opinion, the leadership in the church is bad
  • They could not agree with the direction that the church was taking (translation: They didn't like the music or style of worship)
  • Their ideas got shot down so they hightailed it somewhere else in hopes that their opinion in the new place will carry more weight
  • There just aren't enough opportunities available for their children (this is always a convenient one to use)
  • Of course there are legitimate reasons for fleeing from a church - bad theology, unrepentant immorality amongst the leadership, avoiding what will most certainly be a hostile takeover by an influential group in the church, etc. - but most of the reasons do not fall in these categories.
 Then there are the revitalizers.  These are the believers who are committed to God's church in spite of what we've all made it to be.  They handle challenges head on, refusing to avoid the tough situations.  Revitalizers run on vision and passion, both of which they know how to speak into the life of the church.  Sure, they could sit passively by and hope that things get better but their spiritual makeup won't let that happen.  This group of people believe that the church can change and they are willing to be a part of that process.  Unafraid to dig below the surface, revitalizers take an honest look at how their churches are operating and are willing to make tough decisions when it comes to eliminating programs that are no more useful than rusty boat anchors.  Revitalizers do all of this not because they want to create a church that looks the way that they want it to look, but rather because their desire for the God's church goes beyond petty preferences and personal agendas.  Revitalizers are all about building God's kingdom so that the gospel can more readily penetrate the hearts of the lost.

If I were a gambling man then I would bet that there are a whole lot of churches in America that are at a crossroads when it comes to surviving another week.  It's easy to close up shop or to move on before things get worse, and sometimes that is inevitable if not even necessary.  Yet there are many more of those churches with enough people who possess ample vision and passion to join a fresh movement of God.  We must remember that the church was and is God's idea.  We've done a pretty good job of messing it up and we can always choose to run from the cruel fact of that reality.  Or we can realize that we now have the incredible yet difficult opportunity to put our hands to the plow and fight for what we've squandered.  Bring on the revitalizers!

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