When you go to your church, do you look forward to it, or do you dread it and just force yourself to go out of obligation? Or maybe you are just seeking to be blessed and glean from it all you can, without ever contributing in any way.

When I attended a certain church years ago, I would look forward to going every time. Why? Mainly because the music was so enjoyable, and the pastor or his assistant always had a good message, and everyone was encouraged to participate by being called upon to read a passage from the Scriptures or to share a testimony. The time passed so quickly that I wished that the service would go on much longer than it actually did.

Then something totally unexpected happened. Very gradually, over the course of several years, I began to notice that they always sang the same songs, and rarely in their entirety as they had been written. I did not understand why they ignored the rest of the songbook as if it did not exist, when there were so many beautiful unsung songs just waiting to be sung.

Then I noticed that most of the time the sermons began dwelling on the same thing—calling people to receive Jesus as Lord and be saved. This seemed a bit ludicrous to me, as the congregation was very small (usually fewer than 25), and all of us already were saved, and only rarely was any newcomer present.

Then, more and more, it seemed that the Holy Spirit was being quenched when the hands on the clock at the rear of the church indicated that 11:30 am had arrived. No matter how well things were flowing, it all rudely and abruptly came to an end, time after time. When I confronted the pastor about this, he merely replied that people got hungry and expected to leave at this time.

I did not know enough at that point, but I should have told him that, nevertheless, the Spirit should never be quenched, and that those who wished to leave were free to do so. They were under no restraints, except as constrained by the Holy Spirit, and they were free to follow their own consciences. Regretfully, I remained silent.

Over time, I also noticed that the prayer requests that were made at the beginning of every service were always the same: pray that my sister gets a job; pray that I get my old job back; pray for salvation for our sons; pray that my husband sees the light, etc., etc., ad nauseum. Obviously, they were praying amiss, or their prayers would have been heard and answered long ago.

The pastor also habitually "made over" his evidently most prestigious member (who patently must have been a member in name only, because I never met the man in the entire five-plus years that I attended). In truth, I believe that man supported the church substantially, money-wise, and that was the reason for his being regularly lifted up, as it were. This should never have been so.

Another subtlety that I could not help being aware of concerned me personally, in that, in all the time I attended this church, I also fell into the same monetary category as this other man, because I always tithed on my substantial income and was told, in so many words, that I had paid off the mortgage in large part. As a result, I also seemed to enjoy an "elevated" status among the members. This should never have been so.

Then, out of the blue, the pastor mentioned that they had a chance to acquire the building next door, and that they were going to seriously consider doing so. Now, I ask you, what in the world would they do with yet another building, when the one that they had was not even near to being full?

This time, I felt a little bolder in expressing my opinion, especially in view of the fact that I apparently had enabled them to pay off the mortgage on the present building. I merely pointed out the frivolity of their doing so, and, thank God, they listened. So many churches today are far more interested in their population growth, rather than discipling those they already have to prepare them to plant new churches where needed.

Realize that this church started out in the truth, but it deteriorated over time into a shell of its former self. For instance, when the organ player (a lady in her 80s) fell ill, instead of following the Biblical mandate of laying hands on her to be healed, she was installed in a hospital, and the elders gave up all hope and resigned themselves to allowing her to die (including her husband).

When my husband and I went to the hospital to pray for her to be raised up, her husband actually instructed us NOT to mention the name of Jesus! Imagine that! We found this not only incredible that a long-time saint would say such a thing, but it was totally unacceptable to us, and we both prayed in Jesus' Name, although only one person at a time was allowed in the room; I went in first, and then my husband, and as soon as he finished praying, the monitor that was attached to her vital organs began going wild, and an attendant came running.

For the next two weeks, whenever we professed faith for her healing, the pastor's wife would lament, "Oh, you just do not understand … she has this, that, and the other thing," naming off and assigning these conditions to her. We protested, but she was adamant. In two weeks, the lady was back at her organ, just as good as new. Our dear Lord can override any condition in anyone at any time. He responds to faith!

Next, the pastor himself, a man in his 60s, who was employed outside the church, expressed a desire to quit his employment but would not do so, lest he lose his medical insurance! I was most appalled to hear this, and after service that day, I asked him why he simply did not rely on blessed assurance, rather than medical insurance. He did not know what to say, and I do not remember any response he may have given.

Of course, eventually that church was allowed to die, because the life had drained right out of it, and the little flock was scattered. So sad.

Other signs of dead churches may include reserved seating, gossip, disputes over amenities like carpeting and other trappings, or disputes of any kind, for that matter. Pettiness has no place in a true church!

The bottom line of it all is that, if you are in a church where everyone is in a rut of sameness, remember that the only difference between a rut and a grave is depth.

Author's Bio: 

The writer spent her early years in the legal arena and the last 23 years in property management. She has been an avid Bible student since 1987 and became an online publisher in 2001. She still publishes her bi-weekly ezine, 'elf Expressions Ezine, a collection of positive tips, hints, and advice offered with humor, inspiration, and other goodies for anyone who is inclined to read. The emphasis these days is on the finer points of Christianity. Guidance, mentoring, inspiration, English lessons, editing, and proofreading services for entrepreneurs and online marketers are also offered. Subscribe if you like at http://www.elfexpressionsezine.com.