A birth is always exciting. Yes, always. Whether it is your baby or someone else's, those first cries never fail to make our hearts flutter. Family ties are strengthened as new life extends the roots. Everybody moves in closer and smiles approvingly. What power little babies possess!
What frequently happens in a home occurs all too rarely in a church. Somehow the natural and beautiful drive to reproduce gets lost in the youthful busyness of church life. And if she's not careful, the church begins to grow old, brittle, and inbred, losing interest in giving birth.
The result is tragic: a selfish shell of activity where the talk of new life replaces the actual joy of birth. It's a disease, sort of a Laodicean lukewarmness, that causes the once-vibrant, attractive church to turn inward, to become a religious relic, an overweight body lacking vision, passion, and mission. And the terminal verdict (which nobody wants to admit) is ultimately whispered in the hallways of history: sterility.
Thankfully, some churches stand in contrast to such a scene, giving birth to new bodies.
Under the watchful eye of a mature church, a young body springs to life. For months the older body gives the baby great prenatal care, resisting the temptation to hurry the birth. They nurture each family member and keep the communication lines open. A teachable spirit coupled with a desire to cultivate its own identity and distinct style of ministry eventually enables the healthy new body to live and breathe on its own.
Then, finally, it's time to cut the cord and detach the new body from the "mother." Smiles brighten faces as the labour is ended...and as God witnesses the moment of delight and announces from heaven, "It's a church!"
Being a part of such new life, beginning life anew away from the security and the stability of the parent church, is courageous and, in some ways, sacrificial. But it is right. It is biblical. It is also exciting, as all births are. When I think of all this, I always think of the journeys of the Apostle Paul and the delight he took in the various churches he saw come to life and maturity.
If you have not already witnessed such an event in your own church life, I hope you will have the opportunity sometime in the future. When the time is right, you will know it. "Cause you know how births are. You just can't delay them, even if you try.
Wouldn't you like to contribute to an event that is a part of Christ's own prediction, "I will build my church"?
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.