Why churches shouldn’t try to survive
Survival can easily become the overriding value of a church. You won’t see it on a church website, but it is powerful. The desire to survive is natural. Every living thing wants to survive. Animals’ lives are consumed with the fight for survival. Humans strap themselves up to machines that extend life long past the time natural death would have occurred. Survival is not a bad thing—at least not inherently bad. But when it becomes the guiding value of a church it has devastating consequences.
Mabel is passionate about survival. She has never traveled outside the United States, actually, she’s never traveled more than ten minutes from her home. She goes just far enough to get food and other necessities. She considered food delivery, but you can’t trust those delivery drivers. She knows she should exercise to stay healthy, but going to the gym would require more driving. She considered a treadmill for her house, but that belt moves so fast it would probably throw her right off. Sometimes she walks up and down her stairs, but lately she’s been avoiding that because if she fell no one would be there to help her. She’s an expert at eliminating danger. She doesn’t use the stove, stays firmly on the no-slip mat in the shower, and washes her hands every five minutes.
In doing every thing she can to ensure survival Mabel lives an existence with no purpose, no friends, and no enjoyment. Mabel doesn’t make a difference in anyone’s life, not even her own. She is an increasingly lethargic, boring, ineffective person because of her passionate desire to survive.
I’m sure there are more, but here are three destructive outcomes of the need for survival.
Survival Makes Us Shallow
The more we let the need to survive take over, the shallower we become. Instead of listening to the Holy Spirit we preach what we think people want to hear. We give up the call to carry our crosses for the call to pick up a free latte. Survival lends itself to a shallow form of Christianity.
Survival Keeps Us from Sending
Our call as a Church is to go to all nations and make disciples of Jesus. If we send people to volunteer in other places they may give some of their money to those places instead of us. If we highlight going our best leaders might be called to go somewhere else.
Survival Sucks Our Faith
God has always called His people to move into the future in faith. He called Abram to leave his homeland without knowing where he was going. Jesus called the disciples to follow him without telling them what that involved. When we need to survive we can’t step out in faith because we might fail.