Commenting on Leonard Ravenhill’s statement that “The accent in the Church today is not on devotion, but on commotion”, A.W. Tozer said “What a man is must be shown to be more important than what he does… Externalism has taken over. God now speaks by the wind and the earthquake only; the still small voice can be heard no more. The whole religious machine has become a noisemaker.”
As you survey the well-known churches of our day, this seems very true. As a general rule, there is a lot of activity surrounding them, but the world is not changing as a result. It’s not just the big churches either. For too many local congregations, the emphasis is on what they are doing with little concern being shown for the ultimate results of that busyness.
I have often heard people say they were looking for a church offering a lot of activities for their children and provided opportunities for the parents to get involved as well. I am a strong advocate of the local church, so do not misunderstand or misinterpret what I am about to say. I understand it is easier to make a larger impact as part of a group than going solo. Still, I am convinced beyond any doubt you plus God can do infinitely more than any number of humans banding together. There is strength in numbers, but there is victory only through Jesus.
If we are depending on a church to provide us with occasions to serve Jesus in our communities, we are ignoring the obvious opportunities for service surrounding us every day. The truth is it is easier and more comfortable to lose yourself in a group than it is to boldly step out on your own in the name of Jesus. I would also argue a couple of disciples operating in the will of God will be far more effective than the hundreds showing up for a potluck dinner or ice cream social at the church. When Jesus sent His followers into the world, he sent them out in groups of two (Mark 6:7; Luke 10:1). Even though He had a massive following, Jesus knew a swarm of activity would do less to spread His gospel than the diligent service of the humble few.
A busy church is only an effective church when they are busy carrying out the commands of Jesus, not catering to the popular whims of the congregation. The church must always be on guard of isolating themselves from the world instead of welcoming the world to join them. Too often we find congregations secluded behind church walls, venturing out en masse every couple of months before retreating once again behind the safety of their walls. We need to tear the walls down, welcome the world into our midst, and the get busy serving them where they are.
If your church is busy, make certain it is busy tearing down walls and not hiding behind them. If it’s busy for the sake of being popular and providing services to its members, it’s probably time to move on. Our mission is not to build the local church, but to build the Kingdom of God. Let’s get busy doing that.