How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!
A city that was once full of people and thriving is now a ghost town. What a sad commentary to a city that could have had God’s blessings on it until Christ returned. However, sin caused Jerusalem to lie waste. Walk through the city with me, and see the homes that once had children playing in them gradually rotting for no use. Walk with me and see the temple where people once used to worship in rubbles. Walk with me around the city and see the walls that once used to protect this great city now lies in ruin. What a travesty for a city that was once filled with people and had God’s blessing on it!
However, just as sad as this statement is, there are church buildings all over the world that once used to be places filled with people where God worked that are now sitting solitary. You can go all over the Middle East, the place where the Gospel turned the world upside down, and see buildings sitting solitary that once used to be the model for churches. You can go to England and see church buildings sitting solitary where souls used to walk down their aisles weekly to get saved. We could go all across America and see buildings sitting solitary that was once the place people came to see how to learn to build their own works because of the thriving church that building used to hold. What is it that can cause a place to sit solitary that once used to thrive with people?
First, they got comfortable with success. Many great churches have died because they got comfortable with what they used to do. It does not matter how much success you have had in the past; what you are doing now determines the vitality of your walk with Christ. Many churches have relied on the name that their past works built only to gradually die because they are not doing those same works in the present.
Second, they stopped reaching the lost for Christ. A church begins to die whenever it stops or regresses in its soul winning. The purpose of the church is to get the Gospel out. The church has no purpose for God to put His blessings on it when it stops doing what God commissioned it to do, and that is to go soul winning. Many churches have started feel-good ministries to replace soul winning, but they didn't realize they shut down God’s power working in them. Soul winning must be the heartbeat of the church. When a church stops or cuts back on soul winning, it is existing on life-support that eventually can't keep it alive. Whatever you have replaced soul winning with will not keep your church alive.
Third, they gradually left the old paths. Death is gradual! Many churches have embraced change to their death. You don't need to change the church to grow; you need to work the old paths to keep the church thriving. When you stop soul winning, you will change your music, standards and ministries to attract people. The problem is that the church is not to attract people; it is to reach people with the Gospel so they can get saved. Yes, soul winning, bus ministry, and Sunday school take hard work, but they are worth doing if you want to keep your church alive.
Let me ask, is your church heading towards being a solitary building? You can stop the demise of your church if YOU never get comfortable with success, keep going soul winning, and never accept change to replace the old paths.