The Shot Across The Bow: 3 Ways the Church is Killing Itself

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“The world is a dangerous place. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” —Albert Einstein

Complacency is the art of doing nothing. And the Western Church has become good at it. “For lack of wood the fire goes out” (Pro 26:20a).

We live among a consumer-driven society. Christians want to be entertained, demand programs, and show up when they choose. It is a slow death. Here’s three reasons why complacency is killing Christianity.

Complacency Kills The Church

There’s nothing biblical about complacency.

In all the wonderful examples of men and women who have stepped out in faith, from Abraham to Rahab (Heb. 11), to Peter and Paul, lack of drive is never an attribute.

Complacency is killing the Western Church. There are many reasons: laziness, a lack of love for Christ, a flawed understanding of grace, clergy-driven churches, and a countless amount of others, but mainly, it boils down to complacency.

Christ is the head of the Church (Eph. 5:23). A failure to be obedient to the Great Command (Matt. 28:19; John 20:20-21) is a failure to heed orders from the Commander in Chief. The command is to “go and make,” not stay and do nothing.

Complacency says, “I don’t need to do anything.” Christ says if you love me, you will keep my commands (John 14:15). But the Western Church does not obey commands.

Here’s a sobering statement, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36). When the Church fails to be on mission, it fails Christ.

Complacency Kills the Work of the Spirit

Christians are warned not to “quench the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19), not to “put out” the flame of God. How quickly a fire burns out when its embers are not stoked.

Complacent “Christians” are those who desire the gift of salvation without understanding the call to follow Christ. They expect others to “stoke” their fire—to listen to messages from speakers, preachers, and practitioners—yet they fail to be led by the Spirit.

Jesus stated, “You must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:7-8).

If you are born of the Spirit, you listen and obey the Spirit. The work of the Spirit of God is quenched and killed by complacent Christians.

Complacency Kills The Gospel

If complacency kills the church along with the work of the Holy Spirit then naturally, complacency kills the gospel. There is no good news if no one is bringing it! As Paul clarified:

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel … ” (Romans 10:14-16a)

There are millions of people who live their lives without the gospel. Yet, churches fail to follow the Great Commission and send people, or to plant new churches. The loud voices, “It’s not my job” by the myriads of “believers” is deafening. Maybe we should call it, “Couch Christianity.”

They fail to gather as the church and when they do, they lack ears, hearts, and passion. They lack an understanding that discipleship is about submission and intentionality. No. They’re dead men, living with bones and skin. They may say they believe, but they do not do; hence, their fruit is evident in not following Christ’s commands.

The shot across the bow from Christ:

“The servant who knows what his master wants and ignores it, or insolently does whatever he pleases, will be thoroughly thrashed. But if he does a poor job through ignorance, he’ll get off with a slap on the hand. Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!”[1]

It is impossible to love Christ and not love His Church and not do what He said.

Complacency is the silent serial killer of Christianity.


[1] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), Lk 12:47–48.

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