“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” Revelations 2:1-5.
Recently I was discussing with my wife about discussions she had in Seminary where it was believed by most that without Modern music in the church and other concessions in the form of church worship younger people would not come to church. This is thinking that I believe incorrect and misses the fundamental reasons for “success” of a church. These include to consistently proclaim the truth of the Word of God, identify false teachings and expose them, and to always remember its first love, Jesus. The first two the Church of Ephesus was doing a great job on and was commended for it but the initial “love” relationship with Jesus had cooled even as they continued to faithfully preach the Word of God. God demands more that just faithful orthodoxy from Christians, as vital as that is, but also a relationship with each of us to prevent our faith from turning into cold orthodoxy.
The thing that struck me most in the passage above from Revelations, however, is that it is God that determines the ultimate success or failure of a church, not the form of worship or any strategy of man. It is He alone that decides if and when to “remove the lampstand” which represented one of the seven churches in Revelation. Ephesus failed to head God’s warning and the Church was long ago removed and the city destroyed. The area where the Ephesian church once flourished is now 99% Muslim and devoid of Bible-based Christianity.
We need to be less concerned in America about the form of worship or ways to appeal to persons to come to church other than to consistently present the unadulterated Word of God and just as importantly remember our first love and relationship with our Savior. If we do, God will prosper our churches whatever the form of worship service or any other man-made strategies for attracting people to church. Conversely, if we do not God will cause a church to fail.