The Jack Benny church …
Yesterday some people were wishing a friend of mine “happy first annual 39th birthday!”
Someone said he had joined the “Jack Benny Club.” Benny (pictured above), a famous comedian of the 20th century, claimed all of his birthdays were his 39th.
As much as my friend may wish some of his future birthdays are really his 39th, he’ll never again be able to honestly make that claim after yesterday. With each passing day, he will grow older, and the passing of time alone will bring changes to his mind and body.
There is a church I know of, though, that is really a “Jack Benny church.” Although they don’t deny how old the congregation is, the church just doesn’t get any older spiritually. One of this church’s biggest events of the year is its birthday celebration, but if you would have visited this church during its first year of being planted, and then visit it today, you would notice little difference.
Several years later, this church is made up of many of the same people.
The same key leaders are still in the same positions doing the same thing.
These leaders are still leading the same people.
The same people are still living the same way.
The same people are still having the same struggles.
The same people still do the same things.
The same Bible study groups are still meeting, and the participants are still the same spiritually.
Until recently going through a revisioning process, the only additions to this church occurred more in spite of the lack of effort to purposely share the Gospel. Early on, this church gathered a group of people who liked being together, and then settled in to a comfort of just doing the same stuff and being the same way, year after year after year.
It’s a Jack Benny church.
I’ve seen several churches like this all over the country. It’s as if they reached a certain point and then chose to freeze themselves there. No more growth, no more service, no more relationship … no more life than from that point in time when they just got comfortable with themselves.
What they don’t understand is, that’s when they began to die.
Our following Christ is not a life that looks the same five, ten, fifteen years down the road. When we belong to God, we are living a life that is experiencing continuous change …
“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord — who is the Spirit — makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image,” 2 Corinthians 3:18.
Are you a Jack Benny Christian in a Jack Benny church? Or are you a disciple of Christ, being transformed by the Holy Spirit? Is your church spiritually thriving, or do you look today like you did years ago?