I had one of those prayer times tonight that everyone needs – the kind when you are honest with yourself and God. I admitted to God that I have been protecting my flaws for years rather than exposing and correcting them. God already knew it, but I had to admit that to myself in order to begin experiencing freedom.
Many of us are good at this type of self-defense. We are masters at our defense mechanisms and will defend them to the death. The problem with that is we become stagnant and never grow. We are quick to blame everything and everyone else when we must take personal responsibility.
I see this in churches too. Many churches don’t want to face the facts about themselves. When they are in decline and are in dire straits, they often say that the community is the problem. Or they are quick to say that people just don’t want the truth preached anymore, so they’re going to churches that compromise. It may be true in some cases but not all the time.
I watched a video from First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida that has been long overdue. I became acquainted with this ministry in January 2004 when I attended a pastors conference there. The pastor for whom I worked idolized this ministry. For approximately 60 years, it was led by two pastors. The father passed it down to the son. For the last 18 of those years, it was co-pastored by the son and his choice to come alongside him. That pastor assumes the role of single senior pastor until his retirement in 2007. The church covers 9 city blocks and is an edifice that memorializes the father-son duo and antiquated ways that worked well once upon a time.
This church that once averaged 9,000 in attendance is less than half now. They are facing the tough facts and are doing something about it. I am more hopeful for established churches now than ever. Many continue to bury their heads in the sand, but I’m glad that this church is refusing to be a casualty. I encourage you to watch this video.