In his book ‘The Rise and Fall of Movements’ Steve Addison says that the lifecycle of movements can be broken down into five stages: Birth, Growth, Maturity, Decline, and Decay. The most dangerous time during this process is when a movement becomes mature and begins to decline. Yet during this process of maturity and decline is the time when things can be turned around and a movement can be revived. However, when decay sets in it is not so easy to see it turn around.
As I’ve thought about this it’s very clear that the church in Ireland is mature and in many ways in decline, but the story is not over yet, there is great hope! There is so much happening throughout the church in Ireland and God is beginning to breathe on a movement that once stood as a beacon to the world. But if that journey is to continue, if the embers are to ignite a fire that will spread throughout Ireland and to Europe and beyond again, this same reality must be considered by every believer and applied personally.
“If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12, NLT)
This island is filled with people who experienced new birth, growth and maturity, but then settled into a comfortable church experience. Has this been your journey? Have you matured in your faith, then settled in a way that caused your growth to flatline and decline? Are you now fulfilled and content with two hours per week of mere church attendance? Have you lost your passion, your hungering and thirsting after the things of God and His manifest presence in your life? Have you lost your passion for, and commitment to, the fulfilling of the Great Commission? It is never enough to simply go through the motions week after week, with church programs, vain repetitions and religious activities. It’s never enough to settle simply because you’ve got to the place where you understand the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. It’s never enough to settle in a nice quaint weekly experience with your family when the majority of Ireland.
Therefore, if you have reached maturity in your faith, beware you don’t drift into a lukewarm experience! But if that has happened, there is hope. You can cry out to Jesus for Him to revive your spirit, the Holy Spirit can fill you daily, the embers can begin to glow, you can find your purpose, you can fulfil your function within the Body of Christ and become an amazing example of how to follow Jesus in all of life.
It’s time again to cry out to God, it’s time to give ourselves again to the purposes of Christ relationally, locationally and vocationally! It’s time again to realise that as we all experience personal renewal and play our part, the burning embers of the church in Ireland can reignite and fan into flame a movement of the Holy Spirit in which multitudes are swept into the Kingdom of God, even surpassing the splendour of the movement experienced by the early church.
Lord, draw me close and alert me when I begin to settle towards decline. Help me to contribute to all that You are doing among Your people in Ireland. Prepare our hearts as the Holy Spirit prepares to move in our land.