REV3 = Revitalize, Energize, Visualize

By Evangelism, Discipleship, and Shepherding

Ownership & Operation

In many households today, the number of vehicles equals the number of drivers. Various vehicles sit just waiting to be driven or for batteries to be charged as the on-board clocks slowly drain the unused power. Some of us are sold options, or we demand them, so the basic packages of cars have more bells and whistles than we need most of the time. The lack of tolerance for less than a perfect temperature keeps our climate control on and our windows unused. Lack of use is one of the causes of malfunction for most of these options, especially when moving parts are involved.

Inactivity: one of the worst things for a vehicle or any machinery is to let it sit, idle, and not run for the purpose in which it was created. About two years ago, I purchased a vehicle which sat for eight years. I told the owner in similar words that a vehicle like this had little value because of lack of use for a longer period of time, it would be hard to know which parts would spring a leak or malfunction once operating again. Moving parts when not put in motion create minor deformities on the hardening seals and gaskets which may leak when they can’t flex back in place. Plastic parts which normally heat up and cool down with normal use may be unable to withstand temperature changes and crack without even hitting extremes. Fortunately, I did not waiver and offer more money because prophetically, these concerns did materialize with this vehicle. It took about six months of interrupted drivability and a laundry list of parts to make this vehicle a trustworthy and dependable. Noteworthy as it may be, all the options worked and needed no repair. The problems were related to the motor and drive train. In the last decade, this car is at the top of the list for being one of my least cost effective and most labor intensive vehicle purchases. I learned many new skills in auto diagnostics and repair with this vehicle; knowledge has value. Mechanisms were created to move and if they don’t, they can still be rendered useless by seizing up, aging, and not wearing out. Lubricants solidify, parts corrode, and materials become aged when not in use.

Similarly, we want comfort, and we want it when and where we ask for it. Amazingly, God has given man the ability to create and design, and He takes delight in our life journey (Psalm 37:23). Often times these days, a vehicle is devalued not because it does not produce a spark, have a fuel supply, or have power train issues, but instead it is due to the list of depleted functional options and the owner’s intolerance for inconvenience. Other times, the repair or the diagnosis of these malfunctions exceeds the patience of the owners and their pocket books. With respect to churches, we want all the programs the Church economy can offer in self-serving options. If the programs fail to be offered or don’t meet our needs, a new church model is shopped for with little effort to add or restore the church currently attending. Our concern for the Body of Christ needs to be the health of the core functions, not just skin deep. This ever-increasing plethora of churches and vehicles has made for a very diverse bank of pastors and mechanics. Some specialize in the new ways, the old ways, or just want a change.

Movement: Five basic principles for moving a vehicle must coexist no matter what options it has: kinetic energy, centrifugal force, inertia, friction, and traction.5 Being a backyard mechanic, I have very rarely taken my car to a mechanic for basic service. During my first moments behind a wheel when cars were mechanically less complex, I learned that there was value in understanding how something works, even the complicating options. When you know how something works, damage can be prevented. To the unwary user, forcing a broken part to function can cause additional detriment to associated parts rendering them useless and complicating the diagnosis while multiplying the cost. Knowing what went wrong or anticipating the next repair before it occurs is the general principle behind maintenance. If a vehicle is maintained and is kept in good, original working order, cars can serve for many years even fully loaded.

Let’s consider the church. In order for the church to be serving in a God-glorifying way, it needs energy, force, inertia, friction, and traction as well. This is all carried out by the Spirit through Spirit-filled believers. Ephesians 4 explains how the unified body of Christ can work together in details like bearing with one another in love, building up the Body, putting off our old self, plus so many more details. We also have the responsibility to maintain the Body together. We are all mechanics using the Word of God as our manual. When we try to force a member of the Church to obey the Lord and they’re not comfortable with that, there is a reason, and out of love, we need to humbly figure it out together. If we are walking in the manner worthy of our calling, the Spirit will move with energy, force, inertia, friction, and traction. To Him be the glory!

Age & Condition: The newest car in my fleet is thirty years old. Often times, these vehicles are discarded by others as too little value to warrant a repair, or the repair estimates eclipse their perceived value. I know of a previous occurrence when an owner was informed by a pro that a repair costing hundreds of dollars was needed, and only a missing bolt was the solution. Additionally, neglect of a vehicle can bring it into such disrepair or visual lack that it is deemed disposable. Sometimes, I have purchased a good find due to being at the right place at the right time (to God be the glory). The condition of the power and drive train of a vehicle should always take preeminence in the maintenance and purchase of any vehicle. Please be thoughtful with what is coming up next.

Where you worship: what is its age and condition? We’re not going to discuss test-driving a church, though I know many who have done that. If the condition of your church needs maintenance, can you throw money at it to repair the problem? The physical place of worship can be kept up with money, true. Yet, I am referring to the people: aka the Church, the Bride, and the Body of Christ. How do you keep up the maintenance needed in your church? If you aren’t a leader in the church, how can you still help maintain the health of the church?

Basic Skills: the learning of basic mechanical skills has paid off well for many, saving in the cost of repairs. It has also kept many vehicles in their bonus years out of the salvage yard. Even as the onboard computers increase, there are still basic principles, which if understood can help remedy complex problems. I do value opinions of mechanics and have several friends who are working in the field. As new features are offered, car issues become more complicated and diverse. Therefore, making it harder to diagnose even with all the new equipment. It can take great amounts of time and effort searching for erring parts and reconditioning those not broken along the way. Computers can be opened up to find burnt resistors to see the delinquent unit. During the time it takes for the “switch this and hope for that” method of diagnostics, you can sometimes find the malfunctioning part. A good mechanic will tell you that despite the use of diagnostic equipment, they are at the mercy of the program of the onboard computer in your car.

Let’s compare this method of diagnosis to the church. The more programs you have, you need to consider a sustainable system for the long run. Your ministry team usually becomes larger, and when symptoms of a problem arise, prayer, time, and humility will be needed to identify the breakdown. I also recommend seeking wise counsel before embarking on something new. The church’s Shepherd may need to get involved. Does your church have a Shepherd besides Christ? Is it your elder or minister? Do you feel like your church has a caring leader? We all need to be open to the Spirit’s teaching in times of discord.

Value: The way one keeps the fundamental engine and drive train maintained will prove to be the most valuable in reliable transportation. If you lose sight of the value here, more than just the comfort of your ride will be at stake. To undervalue these components or overvalue a lesser convenience could long-term incur a higher cost or detrimental malfunction of your vehicle. When vehicle basics are neglected, the options are not only shortly thereafter rendered useless, but they may also become a complicating factor in the diagnosis of the real underlying problem.

Consequently, can a church become useless? We must maintain the church by closely walking in the Spirit and not the flesh and making decisions in the Spirit and not the flesh. Intentionally dying to self and listening to the Spirit so that the maintenance of our lives is not a burden but instead the Lord’s yoke, which is light. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

In conclusion, vehicles still use the same basic five principles to transport their cargo today. When marketing schemes are able to highlight a vehicles’ options so that in our minds they transition from wants to needs without us being aware, then we have fallen prey to the persuasion of this world. Some new churches have marketing programs that attract members from churches, sometimes with less options. If people value the comfort and ease of the church programs without stepping in to lend a hand, they are missing out on what keeps churches truly alive. Some will find and stay at a church as long as the programs supply their perceived needs. Church attendees may not even pay attention to the world passing them by in their parked church vehicle until circumstances change. The consumerism mentality if catered to by a church will lack the roots to nourish itself in the Word and will of God. The caring pastor of any church needs to model evangelism, discipleship, and shepherding so that he can connect his congregation to the Master (Trinitarian God) of the whole world rather than just attract the world with marketing. Looking at a church for its programs and not researching to see if they are truly alive in Christ is like buying a car for its options with little or no concern for its drive train.

5 VEHICLE DYNAMICS. (2009, March 24). Retrieved May 11, 2022, from https://ritzel.siu.edu/courses/302s/vehicle/vehicledynamics.htm

Author: Wilf Scheuermann, excerpt from the transcript God’s Grade ©2015; Photo by Erik Mclean: https://www.pexels.com/photo/car-keys-with-key-ring-9846170/