1. Stop being so independent. The Word of God implores us to bear one another’s burden and thus fulfill the Law, but most Christians never share their burdens. They refuse to open up and confess their failures, their challenges, their desperation, and the reason they refuse is because of embarrassment and lack of trust. If they are afraid to share their challenges, how much more fearful are they of openly confessing their sins? We must both confess our sins and make our churches a safe place to confess to one another.
2. Stop being so selfish. Christ illustrates the image of a “good neighbor” by telling the story of The Good Samaritan, who found a stranger in a ditch, rescued him, took him to be cared for, paid all his expenses, stayed with him as long as he could, and then returned to check on him and to pay for additional expenses. The good man sacrificed both time and money for an absolute stranger. Those in our local church are more than neighbors. They are brothers and sisters. They are mothers and fathers. They are the family of God. How much more should we demonstrate love for them than for our neighbors?
3. Stop being so timid. I often hear church people say, “You are the only Bible some folks may ever read.” While the sentiment of this statement is admirable, the metaphor is insufficient. Never does God’s Word say to be a silent witness, which is the way many Christians live. Indeed our life must be a witness, but so must our word. We are to preach and pray, testify and teach, and spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
4. Stop denying God’s power. God doesn’t answer prayers like He used to, or so people say. Or perhaps, God simply doesn’t call people to be Elijahs, or Pauls, or Peter anymore. This is not so. Elijah was a nobody when God began using him. Paul was a self-righteous, murderous man when Jesus called him. God, in fact, still uses people in miraculous ways. Stop denying God’s power and ask why God is not working in your church. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
5. Stop seeking new programs. To a large portion of that 21st century American church, Sunday school is outdated. Small groups are misused and abused. Floundering churches desperately grasp for new programs or restarts in hope of growing their numbers. While John Wesley may never have said, “Set yourself afire and people will come from miles to watch you burn,” it is true nonetheless. Stop spending money on new programs and rebranding and, instead, spend time in prayer, Bible study and seeking the power of the Holy Spirit. Don’t worry about numbers, rather worry about your relationship with God and with one another.