3 Symptoms of a Dying Church

“When it comes to the church, the disease is called ‘tradition.’ And when a disease goes unchecked, it can become deadly.”

2. All new forms of worship are considered “vain.”

“In vain they worship me.”

A dying church considers anything new to be “vain worship.” Unless a type of music predates the computer, it is thought of to be nothing more than entertainment.

The apostle John tells us, “God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). When our traditions become more important than reaching the lost and the seeker, and our preferences more important than the leading of the Holy Spirit, then it is our traditions that have become the true embodiment of vain worship.

3. Traditions have become doctrine.

“Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men … laying aside the commandment of God, they hold the tradition of men …”

The apostle Paul instructs Timothy, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

A dying church is quick to misapply texts like this to megachurches and other cutting-edge ministries, claiming, “They’ve turned away from the truth.” But in reality, that’s what the endemic church has done: It has turned aside to the fables and myths of manmade traditions.

“But that’s the way we’ve always done it,” they will say. Show me a stagnate church, and I’ll show you a church steeped in its own traditions to the point that those traditions have become doctrines.

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Let’s stop condemning ministries and preachers that are reaching the masses through new technologies, unorthodox presentations and anything else God may be using to impact people with the gospel.

Let’s stop casting aspersions while reveling in our endemic church traditions.

Let’s lay aside the traditions of men and hold to the commandments of God. Let’s listen to Jesus, who when asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” he replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:36-40).

Let’s learn to love God and people more than we love our endemic traditions.

Tony Foglio is a pastor, businessman and author of Discover the Bible: Journey Through the Bible As It Was Meant to Be Read (Thomas Nelson, 2004). For more information, go to DiscovertheBible.com.