In this article, we will review how to identify lifeless people in Houses of Worship.
Jesus Identifies the Lifeless in Churches
For the purposes of this post, I will use “lifeless people” and “church people” inter-changeably.
These are not to be confused with "Saints." Listen to Jesus' Words describing "Saints." (John 10: 27-30):
Now, here is how Jesus Christ describes lifeless church people (Matthew 7:21-23):
A Saint is a follower of Christ who listens to His voice. A church person participates in religious activities for their own selfish reasons. To them, church is nothing more than a previous version of Facebook.
It is their social circle, community activity, and place to go to make trouble and gossip.
If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance your gut instinct is warning you should be aware of something or someone.
For the rest, you might’ve stumbled on this article because you are trying to understand the difference.
Whatever your end in mind, it is important to seek the heart of the Lord through prayer. As a preacher and pastor, I am well aware we often believe we are more than we are.
Frankly, and sometimes inclusive of me, it is church leaders who are often the most arrogant. We contradict Paul’s command by thinking more of ourselves than we should.
This arrogance results in all who experience it becoming lifeless pew dwellers. The sword of the Word of God which was once sharp, became "dull".
Lifeless Houses of Worship Don’t Practice Evangelism
Lifeless Houses of Worship are full of pew warmers who, while present in body, are absent in spirit. In leadership, these sorts possess the spirit of Absalom.
More simply: they would rather be somewhere else and/or, as in Absalom’s case, steal what others have. You can be a great member of the congregation but not interested in its broader mission.
In the modern church, you can easily identify these people because their eyes are glued to their smart phones!
Even if that person happens to sit in a pulpit, they can be just as much "lifeless" (in Spirit) as anyone else. I know because I am a Pastor, and spend time around such men and women frequently.
We must refocus on what matters.
This begins with repentance, which produces lifestyle, and results in won souls! Lifeless church members cannot win souls for Jesus Christ. I mean, "how can the dead speak of life to the dead?"
It is only those who are "alive and breathing" who speak life into the dead!
Often, we believe we are "fooling" other people with what we say and the length of our church service. Lost people that we evangelize are not as dumb and blind, at least about your character, as you might believe.
Further, you’re not comfortable with outreach.
I understand that evangelistic outreach produces feelings of “angst.” Congratulations, you now understand the feeling of unworthiness most Believers have felt at one time or another.
This must not, however, rob you of the life giving opportunity Jesus expects you to provide others. This is the ultimate, and eternal, opportunity to "pay it forward."
Personal spiritual issues such as hesitation are always tied to the struggle of self-identity.
News Flash: Christian life is based on “discomfort.” I would suggest discomfort is not a bad thing either. There is nothing more crucial to personal spiritual growth as is the embracing of "discomfort."
Think about the first time you jumped into the deep end of a swimming pool or took a chance on doing something great. Moments before the excitement of the experience was a time of discomfort.
To breathe life back into that dead worship experience, you must overcome your discomfort with faith in God's strength!
It is impossible to practice biblical evangelism and have your feet stuck in the mud at the same moment. Regardless of what you have heard, there is no gray area! Jesus, himself, said (Matthew 12:30):
The message here is quite clear: you are either with Jesus in righteousness or against him in wickedness. He even mentioned this in the Book of Revelations when referring to "fence sitters" as "lukewarm."
Do you think Jesus was ‘comfortable’ up on that cross bleeding to death and suffocating? We are supposed to represent Jesus’ life and suffering!
Since, then, scripture teaches “with or against” and eliminates the “gray area”, what does that say about where you truly are by avoiding discomfort?
Those who avoid discomfort are, by definition, in a rut and lifeless in the eyes of God.
Dead Churches Suffer a Lack of Trust
Even true followers of Jesus are sometimes plagued with doubts about their ability to live out the faith. You may have gone to certain church events and left feeling like something was not quite right.
You may have even noticed that some of your fellow members have a lack of confidence in others present. Some of them may even be saying things like: “I don’t know if we really believe that stuff.”
What may surprise you is this is a true statement and should not be “shunned” by the uber religious present! Too often, people suffer a lack of trust in God because they do not know how to be real with either Him or themselves.
Real Believers suffer doubt from time to time, but we never bring others into that doubt over the long term. We encourage ourselves, and others, even when we don’t feel like doing so.
Further, one of our imperatives is to exhort others to not “be better” in those moments but to “believe better.” The difference between these two (2) paradigms seems small but is quite vast. To “be better” takes personal efforts which has it limits (in the flesh).
Put more simply – there is a limit to “how good we can be” apart from God. However, and on the other side of the paradigm, our “faith” (believing better) is without limits and dependent upon an unlimited Power Source.
Have confidence in Jesus Christ and don’t depend on the prevailing mood of your fellow Believers to dictate your commitment to Him.
Church People Allow Being Introverted to Stifle Mission
There are both “church people” and real Christians who are introverts. As surprising as this may be to the reader, I am just such a person.
Yes, I lead a congregation as a church Pastor, but I struggle mightily with the ‘social skills’ required to be more effective.
By gifting, I am a Prophet which, as some know, are often called to ministries of isolation.
This does not suggest we are to remain isolated, 100% of the time, and have no fellowship with others. Even the mighty John the Baptist fellowshipped with his disciples.
Who can forget his command to them (Matthew 11:1-3):
As I write this, I am sitting in a soundproof cubicle in a small-town library, isolated from everyone. I love it!
Further, you might be quite talkative but you don’t really shine when it comes to being social. You might also love the "thought" of mingling among others but struggle when the moment arrives.
I get it, truly I do! Yet we are called to be a part of a group. This may not mean “mingling” every day, but from time to time, we must fellowship one with the other.
You might prefer being around family and/or friends than in a large group of strangers. My advice is you must ask Jesus to add what you need in this area, especially since it makes you uncomfortable.
Refuse to allow being an introvert to stifle the mission God has for your life. Spiritual integrity must be demonstrated even if you struggle in social situations.
I am much more comfortable on a street corner, open air preaching, than in the smaller intimate church setting.
Yet, in this season anyway, God has called me to lead so I put away ‘self’ as you must.
Lifeless People Ignore Sin in The Church
Here is a question: how are you a follower of Jesus Christ and do not love those He loved? Remember His Words: “that that you do to the least of these, you do it to me as well.”
Love never, ever, ignores wrongs in favor of being "nice." Saints too often confuse "nice" and "loving" by supposing that being loving must mean being nice. Nothing could be further from true.
Here is two things I know having never met you. While growing up, the person who loved you most, hurt your feelings quite often. For me, that person was my foster mother.
Second, those who care for you least will always avoid saying what you need to hear. It is impossible to "love" and not "discipline" or otherwise criticize.
I am sure you read of God's Love expressed like this (Hebrews 12:6):
Avoiding confronting wicked people, and being so confronted yourself, is a dangerous area to exist within. Repent of this, flee from it, and never return. Your eternal soul is not worth something so basic to the faith.
Lifeless pew warmers ignore sin in the church – especially their own. Dealing with sin in the church is all our responsibility. Too often, the Saints (and “aints”) leave dealing with these things to the Pastor/Preacher.
Here is something you may not know: we are usually the last people in the church to know what is going on!
By the time we notice, there is often a huge issue in the congregation. This could be viewed as a shortcoming of ours, but I hardly think so.
Dealing with evil in the church must be a group effort through faith, prayer, and confrontational follow through. Yet we are taught: “we are not supposed to judge others. That is not love.”
Not only is that the exact opposite of what Jesus taught in Matthew 7, churches are destroyed as a result of this fallacy.
There are biblical ways of dealing with sin in the church, so it does not become a spiritual “wasteland.” Please read Matthew 18:15-18:
There are many who believe that the simple act of church attendance is a badge of honor. Further, these sorts believe that it is a high calling to be a part of a congregation and serve the faith community.
Yet, it seems logical that if you are not truly following God’s Call, how is it possible to serve His People in a way He commands? “Acting” is the purview of a lifeless church person and not disciple of Jesus.
These are things that are being ignored, left unaddressed, or just plain forgotten. And these things might just be signs that you need to reevaluate your church life.
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