WHY CHURCH FALLS (PART III)
By Akin Ojumu
For the most part, all Christian ministries often start well. Unlike nowadays when Christian ministry has become a synonym for joblessness, it used to be rare to find a Christian minister who took on the mantle of the ministry in error or with an ulterior motive. Many Christian denominations that are known today for their bad reputation were actually founded by people who had genuine passion for lost souls, and whose primary purpose was to serve the LORD.
A vast number of pastors who have gained notoriety for conducts unbecoming of a Christian were once pure-hearted lovers of God who wanted nothing other than to lead sinners to the saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In the very beginning, when they were still wet behind the ears, their motives were pure and their intentions genuine. All they were about was preaching the Gospel and raising hell for the kingdom of darkness. The pleasures of this world weren’t any of their concerns. God’s Word burned like fire in their hearts, it was like fire within their bones, and the zeal of the Lord consumed them.
As the ministry grows and multiplies, however, and as he increasingly gathers large followings, and the fame, prestige, and wealth follow, the man of God gradually loses sight of what’s important and his focus shifts to fluffs with no eternal value. Surreptitiously, the Christian ministry takes a detour from the path of its true calling, half a degree turns at a time, into eternally unprofitable triviality. Slowly, the warm devotion to the LORD freezes, and cold-hearted religiosity sets in.
Sip by sip, the man of God gets drunk on his newfound power and influence; bit by bit, his soul turns callous, and he becomes deadened to the truth. Before you know it, the Christian ministry becomes a shell of its former self, and the Christian minister is nothing but a mere shadow of what he once was. And soon, the ministry is living on past glories and the minister is left to reminisce about the deeds of yesteryears.
It's a frightening thing for a ministry to live on past glories and it’s a terrifying thing for a minister of the Gospel to thrive on former splendor. Yet too many denominations today, and a considerably large number of ministers of the Gospel, do just that. They draw from a reservoir of goodwill, and they cash in on banked capital of trust and respect.
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
Unlike Paul, who didn’t sustain a religious empire on his past achievements but kept pushing forward towards the mark of a higher calling in Christ, modern-day powerful men of God live on the glory of yesteryears. And it can be said of many of these ministers and their ministries, “Ichabod, for the glory has departed.” Like Moses in the wilderness, they cover their faces with veils so that their followers would not recognize that the glory has faded, and God’s presence has long departed.
So, how does a Christian ministry go from glory to gory? What road takes a Christian minister from hero to zero? Are there recurring patterns that are telltale signs of fading glory that we can look out for? What are some of the common clues that tell us that a ministry or minister is lifeless?
Stay tuned till next time…