Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why is Everybody Leaving the Church?

I Timothy 4:1

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

As a child, I remember an old gospel song that said, Get on board the old Ship of Zion, it has landed many of thousands, King Jesus is the captain." It was a song written around 1867 that gave recently freed slaves hope through the gospel of Jesus Christ as a vessel for their further advancement. They were embarking on a faith journey on the Ship of Zion (the church). Decades after that their great, great, great grandchildren are disembarking from the ship (the church), abandoning their faith. In the book, "You Lost Me," David Kinnamon says that 43% of twenty somethings drop out of church after turning 18. They become skeptical and disenchanted from the church and the Christian faith.

It seems we are in the "Later Days," that Paul was talking about when he said, "The Spirit clearly says that in later days people will abandon the faith, and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." The devil's job is to deceive God's people away from God. Satan always wants you to think there are shortcuts to your spiritual fulfillment through sensual shortcuts that lead to dead ends. He brings in doubt about the relevance of church. 'Is Church really necessary? Isn't it enough just to be spiritual? You don't need church! You can have a personal relationship with Jesus and stay home." These are all deceptive words that the enemy has been sowing in our spirit.

The Ship of Zion is symbolic of the church and Jesus who is the captain of the ship. Sometimes, we want to disembark because of who is on the ship. Many times we allow the passengers, the crew, or even the captains to run us off the ship. Unfortunately, there are no perfect churches/ships but there are some good ships with imperfect people.

The Apostle Paul talked about the importance of staying on the Ship even when it's rocky. Paul was on a ship going through a terrible storm, so much so that they were throwing things overboard just to stay afloat. Some of the sailors were trying to sneak off to save themselves and the prisoners were trying to escape. Paul said, "unless these men stay on the ship no one will be saved." There were people on that ship that deserved to die and some who were good people but all of them had to stay on the ship in order to survive the storm.

Many of us have shipwrecked our faith by abandoning the ship. Giving up on church is not going to save your life, it's going to make it worse because we need each other to survive these storms.

Paul says, "do not give up on meeting together as some are in the habit of doing. The more you skip out on church the more of a habit it becomes. Before you realize it, you have abandoned ship. Paul said do not get in the habit of avoiding Fellowship. Fellowship is nothing more than two fellows in a ship. There is power where two or three believers gather for fellowship in the ship called the church.

The trend today is not only to listen to deceiving spirits leading people away from the church but also giving in to demonic teaching. There are media hounds form hell and radio talk jocks that are picking at the remains of church scandals and carnage. The failings of some pastors have become fodder for the propaganda of those who already hate the church. Unfortunately, we have given them plenty of ammunition through our indiscretions but this is not the time to abandon ship.

This is the time to get back on board the 'Old Ship of Zion'. You can't change anything from the outside looking in. If the ship was good enough for our ancestors then it's good enough for me. I feel like Noah trying to get people on a ship with animals telling people it's going to be a flood with rain in sight. Noah and his family stayed on that ship 40 days and 40 nights while it rained and people outside the ship died from God's judgement. God took Noah and his family on a ship to a new place and he saved humanity through that ship. As stinky as it was on that ship with those animals, Noah and his family stayed on the ship until God got them to the other side. They did not abandon ship.

what about you? Have you abandoned ship? Why? You could help the church better from the inside rather than being on the outside. This is not the time to abandon ship but it's time to get on board and get to the other side.

Dear God,

Help us to get on board with your will for our lives. Your Church is the ship that will transport us to salvation. Give us the ability to make the needed repairs to the ship so that we can get others on board that need a way to heaven. Help me to reach those who've gotten off to get back on before the ship leaves out without them. Thank you for letting me get on board the Old Ship of Zion. Thank you for being my captain.

In Jesus Name,


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