Please allow me to share something I read recently. It may be a little long, but please take a moment to read it. It was written by a preacher in the 1950s named A.W. Tozer.
“It is literally true that some churches are dead. The Holy Spirit has gone out of them and all you have left are the remains. You have the potential of church, but you do not have the church, just as you have in a dead man the potential of a living man, but you do not have a living man. He can’t talk, he can’t taste, he can’t touch, he can’t feel, he can’t smell, he can’t see, he can’t hear — because he is dead. The soul has gone out of the man, and when the Holy Spirit is not present in the Church, you maintain the church by methods of business or politics or psychology or human effort.”
The President has asked that churches be reopened. We re-opened yesterday as did many other churches. The question is, “what did we re-open?” Did we simply dust off the same pews, start up the same organ, and power up the same boring preacher? If that is all we have done, perhaps we were not closed long enough.
The world has changed in a way that will never allow us to go back to who we were. We have seen too much suffering and too much death to ever approach the altar the same way. We need to be asking “WHY?” We need to be questioning our own vulnerability and mortality. We need to change the way we see each other and see our connection to each other. We need to go back, to an earlier day, when the Church of Christ was ready to soar.
Pentecost reminds us that the Church must be alive in the Spirit and the result of the Spirit will be courage. It is time we cremate the dead churches. We can respectfully give them a fond farewell, but let us move on. The Gospel needs to be alive in a world filled with doubt, technology, media, greed, wacky politics, and selfishness. The amazing thing is that the power of the Holy Spirit can overcome all these things.
I always had a scheme for renewing the church. A damper was put on those schemes and dreams. But, together with you, we can change our own church. We can make our community a first century church that is ready to face anything the world can throw at us. We can make PWC different. We can come together, as we come back, to a church filled with life, hospitality, love, and hope.
Please, please pray with me. May all churches allow the Holy Spirit to reign. As we open churches, may we open hearts to the flame of the Spirit. May our church, which is all we have influence over, be a different church going forward. May each person who enters our doors know the Spirit dwells here and may our deep encounter with God’s love teach us how to re-open the economy of true Christian spirituality. May we die with Christ so that His Spirit may dwell with us.