The phoenix is an Egyptian mythological bird of red, gold and purple plumage, colors of the rising sun. The phoenix, symbolizing rebirth and resurrection, died in the fire of the funeral pyre, but arose from the ashes. Given so much talk these days of declining and dying churches, here and there, in addition to Ed Stetzer’s blog, dead church is becoming more of a reality than any want to admit. The church is to be filled with life, light, hope, strength, and the Holy Spirit which brings all of these to bear. How could that which provides a pathway to life be dead? How can that be?
Here is a description of the church:
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
How could any body of people with this reality be dead? As Dr. Vance Havner used to put it, spiritual ministries have four stages: man, movement, machine, and monument. When the church moves into the monument stage, she is declining into death. In this stage the church is simply looking back at the monuments of glory from years gone by. The way things used to be: attendance, money, and more. Like the glorious phoenix dying on the funeral pyre the church is setting itself on fire through a series of rebellions as well as masterful deceptions by the enemy as articulated by Thom Ranier.
Is there any hope? Many would say no citing that the traditional church has become too old in a world that prefers new. The established church has become this beastly burden of bureaucracy that cannot move like an overweight, out of shape, boxer entering the ring. The rate of change is such that the established church cannot keep up. For some, it is easier to build new than remodel. I beg to differ and will share my thoughts tomorrow.
There is still hope.