"So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone."
- Ezekiel 37:7 NKJV
So here we are again for part 2 of this series about the process of decay and how it relates to churches.
2. The BLOAT Stage
In this stage, anaerobic metabolism takes place, leading to the accumulation of gases, such as hydrogen sulphide, carbon dioxide, and methane. The accumulation of gases within the body cavity causes the distention of the abdomen and gives a cadaver its overall bloated appearance. When death has overtaken a church and they reach this point then some people might be fooled into thinking that there is nothing wrong. After all they are experiencing an increase and are growing. There is some slight movement as the body gets bigger. This is all a good thing isn't it?
The gases that accumulate inside of a decaying body are deadly and would kill a person if they breathed them in. Similarly, a church that is in this stage might increase in size but the reason for the increase is something that will eventually kill any life that might breath it in. These poisonous gasses are a counterfeit to the wind of the Holy Spirit. This is the church that was struggling and instead of hitting their knees in prayer seeking after God's face, they went and hired an interior decorator. They remodeled the church and watered down the message of the gospel to be more attractive to "seekers". After all we want to draw people in and not offend them in any way don't we? Isn't that the goal of the church? To grow?
This is church growth at any cost.
The other interesting thing that happens to a body in this stage of decay is that insect activity inside the body causes the skin to slip and loosen from the body. A church in this stage loses it's covering. The presence of God no longer rests on the congregation and is instead replaced with a man-made atmosphere that attracts people to the building. The reasons for doing these things sound noble on the surface, church growth, advancing the kingdom, etc. The problem is that we end up doing things the way that seem right to us but are devoid of God. As it says in proverbs, "There is a way that seems right to a man but it's end is death".
Now don't misunderstand me. Just because a church remodels the sanctuary and puts up some stage lighting does not mean that they are in this 2nd stage of decay. The only way you can tell for sure is to look deep down below the surface and examine what is going on underneath. What are the motives behind all of it? What is the real heart of the church?
Phillip Reed is the Associate Pastor of Faith Chapel Ministries. His passion is to reconcile the lost to their Heavenly Father.