The Church Awakening
"Ours is a whole new world, and nothing has been more adversely affected by postmodernism than the church and its relationship to God's Word." For a Christian, this book cover opening really grabs attention. For years we've watched statistics that show a steady decline in church attendance which has caused pastors and church councils to advertise and entertain in order to boost membership. But does that honor God? In The Church Awakening, Chuck Swindoll shares a lesson his grandfather taught him about erosion and how he measured the actual disappearance of the cliff on the bay where his cottage was. That erosion was slow, silent, and subtle. The same effects of erosion are an even greater concern spiritually, and to measure them one must have a starting point, a milestone, where an objective measurement is taken. In other words, what were our original objectives, and are we still on target toward those goals?
Swindoll looks into the Scriptures, going back 2000 years, to discover "Church". In Matthew 16, the word "church" is used for the first time. After Peter correctly identified Him as "the Christ, the Son of the living God (v.16)", Jesus declares, "upon this rock, I will build My church (v. 18)". It was a spiritual entity, with Christ alone as its Head. Within a year, however, Christ was put to death. Soon after, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gave believers the courage to boldly witness in Jerusalem of what they had seen. Followers grew in number and spread out. Acts 2:42 gives their 'measuring stick', their goals, their purpose: the teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. Not only is this descriptive of what they did; it is also prescriptive of what all church must do. The Word of God is learned through teaching and lived through fellowship; the ordinances are part of worship, and prayer is key to it all. The results were a growing church, a spread of the gospel, and multiple verses in Acts record the increase (2:46-47, 4:4, 5:14, 6:7, 9:31, 11:21-24, 14:1, 16:5, 17:12). From this Biblical example, Swindoll shares timeless truths of the spiritual emphasis that needs to take place in churches today. Everything we do, say or sing; offer, decide, or apply, must be guided by clean, biblical thinking. He states, "Studied, accurate decisions must originate from God's Word" and "wise, essential changes must occur to counteract any sign of erosion."
I highly recommend this book for, as Swindoll puts it, "serious, clear-thinking, tough-minded churchgoers, who know there is a better way and are courageous enough to stand against the swelling tide of postmodernism." God's got this! Christ promised, "the gates of Hades will not overpower [the church]." Let's get to work with Him!
As Coggins Church celebrates its 68th year with Homecoming 2019, we will take a look back and a look ahead. From the beginning, Coggins had as its goal, the spread of the gospel. Through the years, it has experienced highs and lows, growth and decline. As we look into the future, we must stay focused on God's Word for clear direction and purpose.
For His Glory, Lynda