ARLINGTON?Michael Lewis, pastor of Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, offered hope for plateaued and declining churches, rooted in the experience of Ezekiel as described in Ezekiel 37’s valley of dry bones.
While studies show that only 1 percent of churches will reverse their congregational decline, Lewis reminded the SBTC audience that even the prophetic books of Scripture have practical application, as promised in 2 Timothy 3:16 that all Scripture is inspired and useful for all facets of a godly life.
“Many times we need to get a glimpse of God and put aside the church growth books and magazines that don’t have enough spiritual power to blow dust off a coffee table and get a fresh vision of what God sees about a church,” he stated, describing the “life-devastating mess” that Ezekiel observed in what Lewis called the dead, dry, depressed, and disjointed bones.
“Why would God take Ezekiel to this bone yard?” Lewis asked. “Before we’ll ever experience revival, see a movement of the spirit of God in our churches, we have to see it the way God sees it, with the hand of the Lord going there,” urged Lewis, encouraging those pastors who have thought of resigning to instead see the need for revitalization.
Ezekiel also offers a life-giving message, Lewis said.
“God’s message was a message of life and not death, hope and not hopelessness, restoration and not ruination. The key to revitalizing our churches is the resurrection message of the living Word of God,” he added, insisting it must be proclaimed with urgency to prevent more people from dying in their sin and going to Hell.
Lewis further warned that the urgent presentation of God’s Word without the prayerful anticipation of his Spirit would not bring revival.
“Before ever preaching the message, he had to answer the question, ‘Can these bones live?'” he said of Elijah. He went on to describe the life-transforming miracles whereby the bones were regenerated and mobilized.
Testing those in the audience whether they believed dead bones can live, he asked, “Deep down in your heart, as you’re going back to that church, do you really believe a plateaued, declining church?the dead bones?can live?”