When do we have the form without the power of religion?
When we develop church growth strategies that target the middle class instead of the poor and marginalized, then we have the form without the power.
· When we spend more of our resources on constructing and maintaining Church buildings and property than we do on feeding the hungry, then we have the form without the power.
· When we spend more on pastor’s salaries, benefits, and pensions, than we do on clothing the naked and sheltering the homeless, then we have the form without the power.
· When we turn stewardship into financial campaigns for the Church, rather than sacrifice for the poor, then we have the form but not the power.
· When we blame poverty on the sloth of the poor rather than the avarice of the prosperous and the indifference of the comfortable, then we have the form but not the power.
· When we furnish our sanctuaries and social halls in such a way as to make the prosperous comfortable rather than make the indigent welcome, then we have the form but not the power…
· When we preach a grace which saves us without changing us, then we have the form but not the power. (Theodore W. Jennings, Jr. in Theology and Evangelism in the Wesleyan Heritage ed. b James C. Logan)
God Speaks to Pastor Cymbala “If you and your wife will lead my people to pray and call upon my name, you will never lack for something fresh to preach. I will supply alla the money that’s needed, both for the church and for your family, and you will never have a building large enough to contain the crowds I will send in response.” (God’s words as sensed by Jim Cymbala as he was on a party fishing boat in the Gulf of Mexico before Brooklyn Tabernacle’s meteoric growth)
First Baptist Church, Jackson, MS. “By the year 1964 the membership of First Baptist significantly declined to the middle 4,000s from a high of 5,556 in 1952. [Rev. William] Hudgins needed to get people back into the pews of his sanctuary….by calling the faithful away from civil right and social existence, Hudgins was able to preserve the purity of the closed church and the closed society for the sake of the closed Gospel….If you were a Klan militant searching the night for the civil rights heretics, you would count it fortunate that the pure souls had turned their sight inward.” (God’s Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights, Charles Marsh)
Some wish to live within the sound of church and chapel bell. I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell. (C.T. Studd)
The world perceives us as pious and self-centered in our protected sanctuaries and multimillion-dollar church complexes – but that is simply not where most of the sick, hurting, and hungry people are, so they never hear our message. But imagine what would happen if the poor and needy could see us where they live, as we meet them at their point of need. (Charles Colson, Dare to Be Different, Dare to be a Christian, Victor Books, 1986)