Some folks need iron. So the television commercial says try Geritol. Automobiles need STP, we are told. You can get various capsules for your pets, and vitamins for your children. Whatever happened to Hadacol? Remember it? It was a big seller for awhile. A lot of people claimed to be picked up or perked up by it.
What about sluggish churches? What can be done for them? Are you a member of a church which is suffering from lethargy or senility or something of the sort? Perhaps the congregation of which you are a member is charged with enthusiasm and is "on fire" for the Lord. But if you get around much, it is certain that you have assembled with a church which striked you as "withering on the vine."
A lot of churches need something like urban renewal. Across our land cities are putting new life and vitality into their me metropolitan hearts by great clearing and building program:. I was in a city like this recently, a town of 20,000 or more, when bad once lived. It was impressive to view the great change brought about by urban renewal. It reflected a progressive, foresighted, dedicated, and committed city leadership. Old useless buildings were down, or coming down. New areas for downtown parking were being made, new edifices were going up. Funds for restoring and repairing of old, decaying homes and for other eyesores are made available. Them was a special week of "clean-up" being pushed for the whole city. The town was alive. It showed renewal in the inner circle of the downtown area and expansion in the suburbs. The spirit of renewal was noted in the pride and cooperation of the citizens. For the benefit of the Chamber of Commerce, I must mention that this was McAlester, Oklahoma, May 1971.
The church needs something like this, when it gets sluggish, or run down. Why do we let the church suffer from decay and senility — the body of Christ? We may be quite concerned about our own body, and submit to the annual check-up. We are advised by the automotive experts to get a seasonal check-up for our cars. But we just let the church struggle along. It gets stiff and weak and suffers from a hardening of the spiritual arteries.
Sound churches take great care to be true in doctrine to the New Testament heritage. But a good many of them are not producing for the Lord presently, and thus have no assurance of the future. Churches which are rich in doctrine and think they have no need of anything, might well consider the letter the Lord wrote to the church of Laodicea.
A soft-drink commercial says you can come alive with Pepsi-Cola. If the tingle of the cola will enliven an individual, surely there is something that will provide some enlivening tang for a church!
The leadership of the congregation must see to it that the vitalizing power of gospel truth flows in the services and work of the church. Leadership would do well in coming to grips with the situation where the flow of the life-giving truth is inhibited by clogged up or hardened arteries in the local body of Christ. The health and welfare of a church depends on the health of the individuals — their spiritual well-being. If the church has become sluggish or sick, maybe something has happened to the intake valves in individuals, the truth is not getting in. . .perhaps the truth is not getting to them.
An article by John J. Drag asks a number of questions: "Do we want a church that is pulsing with life? Then we must give due consideration to some searching questions. The most basic is: Why do we exist? Once we answer that, we must ask: Are we responsive to this purpose? Do we provide each member opportunities for commitment? Do we have the will to do whatever is necessary to be the best we can be?" The leadership of sluggish churches might well consider these questions. A good many communities of God in various localities could stand some renewal and we suspect God is waiting for the leadership to get busy.