"So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone."
- Ezekiel 37:7
The bones that Ezekiel prophesied to didn't become bones overnight. The process of decay takes time. In fact there are 5 general stages of decay that a body goes through once the heart quits. I will be examining a stage a week to see how this all applies to churches over the next 5 weeks. There is a lot to discuss, so let's dive in to stage 1!
1. The FRESH stage
This stage starts immediately after the heart stops beating. Shortly after death, within three to six hours, the muscular tissues become rigid and incapable of relaxing which is known as rigor mortis. How many churches out there are stuck in their ways? They continue doing things the same way, even if they haven't worked in years, just because that is the way they have always done them. This is the type of church that thinks it's more important to dress modestly than it is to feed the hungry. They become enamored by the rules as if completing a check list will somehow bring life back into this rigid body.
From the moment of death, the body begins losing heat to the surrounding environment, resulting in an overall cooling called algor mortis. How many churches are here in this stage? There was a fire at one time but their passion has cooled. These are the churches that talk a lot about getting out and doing something but they never seem to actually go and get anything done. Every time there is a push to start something new, the enthusiasm is short lived and they very quickly go back to the status quo.
The loss of cell structure brings about the release of cellular enzymes capable of initiating the breakdown of surrounding cells and tissues. This process is known as autolysis. In biology, autolysis, more commonly known as self-digestion, refers to the destruction of a cell through the action of its own enzymes. This is a pretty interesting stage that I think many churches have gone through. This is the stage where we get the infamous "Church Split". People become bitter towards each other and start to fight among themselves. Gossip and backstabbing is common. The people in these churches have reached a stage where they are "eating" each other and destroying the unity of the church.
So, have you ever been involved in a church that was going through the FRESH stage of decay?
Phillip Reed is the Associate Pastor of Faith Chapel Ministries. His passion is to reconcile the lost to their Heavenly Father.