The local church walked in to visit the family doctor for a spiritual check-up. The doctor said, “There is good news and bad news. Which would you like to hear first?”
The local church responded, “Let’s get the bad news over first.”
The bad news:
Historically the trend has been for a church denomination to drift or move away from their foundational doctrines over time. Just a two percent decline in church health causes a steady, slow, sure decline.
John Trent, author of Heart Shift, and a professional counselor, tells of a plane trip where he sat beside a NASA petroleum engineer. He took advantage of the opportunity to ask the missile scientist, “How many degrees can a space rocket be off before it becomes a huge problem? Could it be two degrees off?”
The man pulled out his calculator and started punching in numbers. “To be two degrees off from when you blast off, and taking into consideration the time and distance traveled, you’ll miss not only your point of orbital entry, but you’ll miss the moon by 11,121 miles.”
Trent goes on to say, “Just be two degrees off from the right heart attitude, add in enough time and distance, and an entire church can end up miles from God’s heart.”
John Wesley once said, “I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist…But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having a form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case, unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.”
The Charisma magazine (October 1993) quoted the Assemblies of God general superintendent as saying, “We might be Pentecostal in doctrine but we’re not Pentecostal in experience.”
“Too many people,” George Wood said (in the same meeting), “are leaving our churches unchanged, unmoved, unsaved, unfilled, unsanctified and unmotivated to turn their heart and will over to God completely. We need a holy fire which sets aside business as usual in the church until Jesus comes.”
Timothy Beougher and Alvin Reid in Evangelism for a Changing World cautioned, “When adenomination’s theology changes, that change almost always begins in the seminaries that train its leaders.” It is paramount that we as Bible school educators take special note of what was just stated. Many colleges started out with the objective of teaching God’s Word but have strayed far from that. God forbid that this ever happens in our apostolic Bible schools.
Just a two degree shift in doctrine and convictions can cause change for the worse, pulling the church away from God.
The local church was devastated, “Well, that is gloomy news! I think I would like the good news!”
The good news:
A two degree shift toward correct doctrine and appropriate convictions can bring a church closer to God. Trent adds, “Even small shifts in a positive direction could move a person from ruin to renewal.”
Yes, churches drift. Churches die. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A two percent positive shift in church health has amazing, salvaging, eternal impact.
H. B. London, Jr. and Neil Wiseman in The Shepherd’s Covenant for Pastors said, “One social scientist recently expressed…the quality of a whole culture can be changed if just two percent of the population has a new vision of what needs to be done and starts doing it.”
I want to be part of that two percent, firmly focused on God’s Word, living it daily, and proclaiming the whole gospel to the whole world. A small percentage can make a large difference. We can reverse trends. We can upsurge church health.
Two percent makes the difference.