Keeping Our Church on Course

In September of 2014 as our church was celebrating our 20th anniversary, I was reflecting on what the Lord had done and praying that the Lord would help us to continue to thrive and be even more vibrant for Christ. Although this prayer was 8 years ago, it is the same cry to our God we have today, “God keep us strong in our relationship with you and may we shine brighter in this broken world for Your glory.”

Unfortunately, in Canada, the USA, and around the world, you can find numerous examples of churches that a decade ago were full of life and growing, but today are in decline or gone. According to Stats Canada, in 1985 about 45% of Canadians attended religious activities at least monthly. By 2019 that number had dropped to about 20%. Across our country churches have closed and the recent pandemic has only added to these numbers.

In my search for answers on how our church might not be such a statistic, I was brought back to an old book by Charles Finney called Revivals of Religion written in 1868. When Finney wrote this, the USA had experienced a revival with thousands coming to faith in Christ in a short time. In his book he listed several reasons a work of God can be stopped. Here are a ten that stood out to me:

  1. “Nothing is more fatal to a revival than for its friends to predict that it is going to stop.” Like Proverbs 18:21 says, Death and life are in the power of the tongue. If we speak negatively and critically of the work, it will be only a matter of time before the work stops.
  2. “The revival will cease whenever Christians get the idea that the work will go on without their aid.” Ever since the great commission the Holy Spirit has been compelling us to go out into the harvest field. For any work to continue it will need thousands of sacrificial volunteer hours.
  3. “The work will cease when the church prefers to attend to its own concerns rather than God’s business. They think they cannot afford sufficient time from their worldly employments to carry on revival.” Finney goes on to explain that the support of the business community is key for revival to happen.
  4. “When Christians become proud of their great revival, it will cease… when that part of the church which works, begins to think what a great revival it has had, and how it has laboured and prayed, and how bold and zealous, and how much good it has done, then the work will be likely to decline.”
  5. “The revival will stop when the church gets exhausted by labor.”
  6. “A revival will cease when the church begins to speculate about abstract doctrines.”
  7. “When Christians begin to proselyte.”
  8. “When Christians refuse to render to the Lord according to the benefits received. God has opened the windows of Heaven to a church, and poured them out a blessing, and He reasonably expects them to bring the tithes into His storehouse, and devise and execute liberal things for Zion; and lo! they have refused; they have not laid themselves out accordingly to promote the cause of Christ, and so the Spirit has been grieved and the blessing withdrawn.”
  9. “When it does not feel dependence on the Spirit.”
  10. “A revival may be expected to cease when Christians lose the spirit of brotherly love.”

As we meditate on these points, my prayer is that we stay true to the course He has set before us, remembering that Jesus is the only One who can be the Author of our faith and our Finisher.