Dec. 22, 2018

So long, Sears...

I’ve shared before that I love to watch the show, “CBS Sunday Morning.” The show is part of my routine when I get ready for church each week. The show is educational, enlightening, and amazing. No hassles. No politics. No arguments. They state the facts and nothing but the facts. They take us to faraway places and introduce us to inspirational people. They tell the story behind the story - things we would otherwise not know because those things typically do not make the regular news.

Last Sunday, CBS Sunday Morning talked about the state of American business. One segment was entitled, “The Fall of Sears.” The reporter covered Sears’ roots, its humble beginnings, its peak of success, and then addressed how Sears caused its own demise. Sears failed to adapt to the changes in America. It has just about made itself obsolete. Sears struggled for many years. The retail stores became smaller and smaller. They reduced inventory, laid off workers, and closed their Sears Hardware stores, to no avail. It became apparent that those efforts weren’t enough. Sears is closing stores in many of America’s cities laying off many American workers.

According to the financial experts, it is debatable whether someone could buy Sears and keep it open. Most economists agree that Sears reached the point of no return many years ago. Sears has fallen so drastically, it will take a miracle to keep it going. New faces and new leaders can agree to join the chain, but it will most likely close just the same.

Sears refused to keep up with reality and chose, instead, to do their own thing in comfort and without risks. The story of Sears reminds me of certain churches.

There are churches in our neighborhoods that were once the pillar of their communities. The churches reached out and met needs. When times got tough, the church seemed to gather inside and seek comfort. Most churches have refused to adapt to the changes in America. Most churches are making themselves obsolete. Many churches have struggled for many years becoming smaller and smaller. Their membership has decreased. They cycle through pastors and staff. What was once seen as the hub of Christianity is now near-empty parking lots.

It is debatable whether anyone can salvage some churches. Many reached the point of no return many years ago. They’ve fallen so drastically that it will take a miracle to keep them going. New faces and new leaders may agree to join the effort, but many of our churches will close just the same.

When a church refuses to keep up with reality and chooses to do their own thing in comfort and without risk, the church is irrelevant.

The Apostle Paul taught these words, “To those without the Law I became like one without the Law (though I am not outside the law of God but am under the law of Christ), to win those without the Law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men, so that by all possible means I might save some of them.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:21-23)   When Paul said these words, he meant them. However, he wasn’t just tooting his own horn. Paul said these things in hopes that the church would catch on. The church has a responsibility to Christ. We must take our eyes off ourselves and turn our eyes to Jesus. When we do, we will see others the way He sees them. We will see the lost, the wounded, the lonely, the outcast, the suffering, and those that need someone to love them. That, my friends, is what makes the church relevant.

When we take our eyes off our own wants and wishes, we will turn once again and face the cross. When our focus is telling the message of the cross, people will listen. Failure to do so just might allow CBS Sunday Morning to do a segment in a few years entitled, “The Fall of the Church.”