Jump Start # 3384
Revelation 3:16 “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”
I don’t do the cooking in our house. Not my thing and my wife is an amazing cook. But one thing I can do is grill. I’m old fashioned. Give me the charcoal, the smoke, and watching the coals until they are just right to put some chicken or steaks on. That’s me. I can do that. I come in smelling smokey but I love it. Food tastes great. I’ve had many opportunities to get a gas grill. Fast. Clean. Easy. But, that’s not the way I like it.
And, having cooked this way for decades, I know how to get the charcoal white and hot and ready for some steaks. There is an art to it. You don’t just toss a match onto some charcoal nor put the meat and veggies on before the grill is heated up. You gotta know what you’re doing.
Our verse today is the sad description of Laodicea. They were lukewarm. Of the seven churches listed in the Revelation introduction, Ephesus and Laodicea are the only ones mentioned elsewhere. Laodicea did not start out lukewarm. No one starts a church that way, just as no one tries to cook food on the grill without having the charcoals hot and ready.
I heard about a place recently that was small and struggling. They are barely keeping the doors open. Some were leaving one place to go help that place. In their words, they were trying to revive the place. Not a bad idea, but without a plan and without the right people, it’s a wasted effort. You can’t light wet or green wood. Won’t work. Elijah’s great sacrifice truly put that before the people’s eyes. His altar was drenched with water. A trench was dug around and it was filled with water. There is no possible way that fire should have started, but it did. It did, because God did it.
One cannot help a struggling church when they are struggling themselves. Weak people cannot make a church stronger. Weak faith needs help itself.
Laodicea started out strong. That’s how churches begin. They have dreams, goals and plans. There is a lot of excitement at first. Worship is powerful and great. But, much too often, that spirit fades. Time passes. The coals in the grill cool down and now not much takes place.
So, how would one light the fire in a church? What needs to be done?
First, there must be a desire among the people who are at that congregation to get on fire. They must want to grow. Some don’t. Some like small. Some want to remain as they are. And, with that spirit, the coals quickly cool down. No new faces. No effort. No diligence. No accountability. No nothing. And, that’s what is generally the outcome, nothing. It all begins with a heart that wants to grow.
Second, someone needs to be brought in that knows what he is doing. If you wanted to turn a business around, you’d look to someone that knew what they were doing. When a team fires a coach, the search is on to find someone who can win games. Just filling pews with people who have no interest in doing any more than just showing up on a Sunday morning won’t get the job done. Some places are so small they there is no leadership or shepherds. That attracts some who do not want any accountability or responsibility.
Third, plans need to be discussed to get things moving. Better Bible classes. More passionate preaching. A drive to invite and teach the community. A look at what is currently being done and what more could be done. Without a plan, the same results will happen every time.
Fourth, patience and prayer are essential. It takes time to turn things around. Sometimes it is too late. When the boat is at the edge of the waterfall, it’s too late to be praying for oars. That should have happened upstream and a long time ago.
Grilling out and helping a church has a lot in common. There’s a right way to do it. And, when it’s done right, great results follow.