Do our churches have “church termites”? Are you one of them? Termites eat away the structure of a house from within. Not until the structure is almost a shell does their work begin to show. “Church termites” are very similar. Alert! Alert! Their work is beginning to show! Many of our churches are just shells of what they once were. They have gone from being vibrant, sturdy, and involved structures meeting the needs of their congregations, community and world, to just shells of what they once were.
What happened? Of course to answer that question completely would require a book, but I want to focus on a very subtle thing that has caused much of the destruction of the church—-the existence of “church termites“. The question is: What is a “church termite”. You may not have to look any further than your own mirror to see one!
Just look for a “comfortable Christian” and you’ve found one! Most churches are full of them. Here are a few ideas of what to look for to find them:
Look for a church that does not challenge its congregation to its mission of practicing the Great Commandment-–in fact that has lost memory of what it’s real mission is about. ( See Matthew 22:36-39 for the great commandment in case your memory is poor in this area). Carrying out the Great Commandment is not a comfortable thing to do. The challenge of “loving your neighbor as yourself” is not a comfortable challenge. It is a formidable challenge.
Look for a church members who don’t have time to do Bible Studies because they must do other things they consider more important—-almost anything is more important! The church usually has lowest priority among the demands for their time and talent and money instead of highest priority. Termites at work!
Look for church budgets passed by termites that spend most of the money given to the church upon their congregations and very little on community outreach, social justice for the homeless, or carrying out their mission of proclaiming the good news Jesus proclaimed. These budgets prefer making sure everyone of their congregation is sitting in comfortable pews in air conditioned comfort once a week to going into the community in the name of Jesus every day and showing by their life the Way of Jesus. They prefer improvements to their buildings. They spend thousands in maintenance and upkeep of their building and pennies, in comparison, for Week of Compassion, community outreach, the poor, the homeless, the outcasts. More termites at work!
Look for churches who have no children’s Christian education program because everyone is too busy with other things to teach children about Jesus. All those people who are too busy are seeking their own comfort, not following Jesus as a disciple, and are among the termites chewing away on their church.
Jesus did not call his disciples to a life of comfort sitting in a padded pew with air conditioning and listening to beautiful music. He called his disciples to serve, telling them that “the greatest among you will be the servant of all.” . He called them to follow him into the world of his day. To heal. To help. To proclaim God’s love for all of his creation and his children. Jesus did not tell them that to be his disciple they had to make sure they were comfortable. He said that “if you would be my disciple, you must take up your cross daily and follow me.” Carrying a cross is not comfortable. Following Jesus is not comfortable as he went a lot of places we would prefer not to go. Most of the members of our congregations would take this challenge by saying—-well, if that’s what you want—count me out! They are “church termites”.
This attitude of seeking “my comfort” is destroying our churches. More and more we see the effect of this attitude as our church buildings remain intact and solid but the congregations dwindle and eventually die within their comfortable buildings as the membership thinks only of their comfort and not their mission as a church. For the church is not a building—it is a living, breathing body of people who seek to become disciples and followers of Jesus, the Christ. If that is not their purpose then they have no purpose.
Where are your priorities? Are you a “comfortable Christian”? Or are you one of the termites that is destroying the church from within?