By Keith Burden
Reford Wilson was my expository preaching professor in college. He taught me how to dissect a passage of scripture, analyze its meaning in light of historical context and deliver it in a clear, simple, straightforward manner.
During my junior year I served as minister of music and youth at a church in northeastern Oklahoma. One particular springtime weekend, our community was inundated by a series of thunderstorms. A record rainfall pushed streams and rivers from their banks and caused extensive flooding.
The following Monday found me with my expository preaching classmates at 7:45 a.m. We usually spent time sharing requests and praying before the lecture began.
Someone asked if the previous day’s flooding had affected our church. After explaining in graphic detail the devastation caused by the water in some residential sections of the city, I matter-of-factly stated, “But our church was perfectly dry!”
Poor Choice of Words
A broad smile swept across Brother Wilson’s face as he turned to the chalkboard without saying a word and wrote in large letters, OUR CHURCH WAS PERFECTLY DRY.There was a momentary pause, followed by thunderous laughter.
Obviously, my choice of words wasn’t the best; however, my awkward statement did give my fellow students a chuckle and food for thought. Although my comment was intended to describe the physical condition of a local church building, I had quite innocently made a perceptive observation about the spiritual state of the body of Christ.
Unfortunately, too many of our churches are“perfectly dry!” Let me explain what I mean.
Perfectly Dry Services
Occasionally our church services are perfectly dry. The order of service hasn’t changed in 20 years. We’ve become predictable, devoid of spontaneity and creativity. The music, though rehearsed and expertly performed, lacks a sense of sincerity and genuine passion. Even though the sermon is well-constructed and organized, it has become too academic and irrelevant. No wonder folks have a hard time staying awake.
Perfectly Dry Altars
In some cases our church altars are perfectly dry. Apathy has crept into the hearts of Christians. It’s been a long time since we’ve gathered there in prayer and wept over the needs of others. Many congregations have experienced spiritual drought and seldom see sinners shedding tears of repentance.
Perfectly Dry Baptisteries
The baptisteries in some churches are perfectly dry. A lack of personal evangelism among members or evangelistic emphasis from the pulpit has resulted in few conversions. Dust has collected on the floor of the baptismal pool because it is used so seldom.
Am I suggesting that this is the case for every church? No! Of course not. Many of our churches have vibrant worship services. Others are quite successful in their outreach efforts. Baptisms are a regular occurrence at a number of locations. So what makes the difference between a “perfectly dry” church and one that is enjoying the blessings of God?
Showers of Blessing
In Ezekiel 34 the prophet delivers a stirring message to the shepherds of Israel. He reminds them of their responsibility to protect, feed, care for and lead the flock of God. For those who accept this challenge and faithfully carry out their duty, the Lord gives a wonderful promise in verse 26.
He says, “And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing[italics mine].”
Much of what happens in our churches depends on the leadership and example of the pastor (shepherd). Those who seek to be innovative in worship, committed to excellence in music and skilled expositors of the Word seldom have dry services. Their churches are characterized by compassion for others. Many are coming to faith in Christ and give testimony of their faith through water baptism.
But a pastor and his congregation can do only so much. At some point God must step in and do something supernatural that removes the bareness and spiritual drought. Only God can help a church that is perfectly dry—He alone can send showers of blessing. Has it rained in your neighborhood lately?
Article adapted from Contact magazine, July 2003.