How many churches have closed in the last few years? How many have declined to a few people meeting in a large building? Many are looking for answers to this problem by changing methodology, direction, or format, seeking to somehow revitalize the church. The answer may be simpler than that.
Even though there are many reasons for a church to close, the Bible gives us one in Revelation 2. Jesus is speaking to the pastors of the seven churches in chapter 2 and 3. We know more about the first one, the church at Ephesus, because there is more written about it in the New Testament than the other six.
Jesus commends the church for their attention to sound doctrine, to ministry without stopping, to working together with patience and perseverance, and to ferreting out false teachers. He has something negative to say about the church; they have left their first love. Jesus then gives the consequence if they do not change, getting back to loving the Lord with their whole heart. He says that He will come quickly and remove the church from Ephesus.
Ephesus was a church doing many of the right things but they were in danger of quickly being closed because they had left their first love. The prescription that Jesus gave is one for all of us to take to heart. Repent, remembering what we once had in our love –based relationship with the Lord, doing the first things, going back to our first love. We have been given a great gift by God, salvation, eternal life, the forgiveness of sins. We have been given honor and love by God, being call His children.
So, it is up to each of us, in our own churches, to love the Lord our God with our whole heart. As we do, we are taking away one of the main reasons churches close. Have you left your first love?