Signs of a dying church: A word from Primate Nicholas Okoh
The Church In Laodicea
The Church in Laodicea, at the time the Lord sent her the message Revelation 3:14-22, was dying spiritually but not dead. The weaknesses seen in the Church in Laodicea are, therefore, for us signs of a dying Church that should be taken seriously. The Church, because of the strategic position of the city of Laodicea, had large population of worshippers, especially the wealthy. So, she never lacked population, money or materials, yet she was the worst of the seven Churches, where the Lord found nothing to commend them for, not even the elegant and gigantic edifice for worship—the Church building, because the real temples of the Holy Spirit—who are the members of the Church—were undone. The Church had no description different from the society. If it were to be in our world today, the Church in Laodicea would have been made the headquarters of the seven Churches. How far the Church has derailed!
Signs Of A Dying Church
From the characteristics of the Church in Laodicea, both the obvious and deduced, the following features/characteristics are some of the signs of a dying Church:
• Emotionalism in worship is celebrated over and above the centrality of the word of God and prayer (worshipping God in spirit and in truth). Jesus said to the woman of Samaria; “For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (1Jn 4:24). Further symptoms of this spiritual decay are seen in members not keen to attend concentrated prayer meetings and Bible Studies; but will readily fill the Church for miracle, healing, anointing and breakthrough services.
• Societal influence and status determine positions in Church. People who are leaders in politics and other public circles come to the Church and also demand leadership position and are given, without reference to their spiritual standing.
• Church is seen to be pursuing monuments rather than missions. Churches would take pride in commencing and completing magnificent edifice in three months, but not in winning three souls in one year.
• Pleasing people is the determinant of actions and course of actions.
• Simony is promoted—the sale of Church offices and honours. People could bribe their way through in the Church, and honours from the Church are for highest bidders.
• Sin is tolerated and holiness is relegated to the background.
• Preaching the word of God is centred on material prosperity and blessings without eternity in view.
• Success in the Church ministry is measured by material prosperity.
• Congregation has become lukewarm in doctrine and practice. They are easily mixed up with and swallowed by the world, with little or no resistance. They are not only in the world, but have also become of the world.
• Numerical growth is only or mainly by procreation. The Church, having lost zeal for the service of God and passion for perishing sinners, has become complacent and only grows when members give birth. They baptise mostly infants, who they are liable to lose when they grow, for lack of firm grip on their spiritual life.
• Favouritism against the poor has become a part of the Church’s life and practice. The rich are treated with great honour, while the poor is disdainfully addressed.
• Affluence is celebrated regardless of the source.
• Wealth has taken the place of God in the private and corporate lives of the Church. Money is literarily worshipped, as people will defy God to get it. They see it as the key evidence of God’s favour.
• There are manifest signs of carnality, e.g. division along the lines of ethnicity, tribe, language, race, denomination, political view, social status, etc. Believers will oppose themselves and be divided over reasons that are selfish, ephemeral and of no eternal relevance, even when the cross is at stake.
(Culled from the opening address to The Standing Committee of the Church Of Nigeria by His Grace, The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh, MA, Fss, Mss, LLD, DD.; Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate Of All Nigeria and Chairman, Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) Primates’ Council)