Pastor and Christian Leadership Resources

Is Your Church Losing Its Convictions?

  • Chad Napier Contributing Writer
  • 2022 28 Apr
Is Your Church Losing Its Convictions?

For generations, the Biblical stances of the local church have been set out in its church covenant. The document outlines what the church believes and usually the biblical citation to support each belief.

The church covenant and our convictions of the church are similar in that both set the biblical standard for our worship and beliefs. There were no surprises, and everyone understood the church’s expectations and standards. Today, however, the church body is becoming more individualistic in its spiritual beliefs to align with our changing culture. Consequently, many of our convictions have been eroded, allowing the world and the flesh to infiltrate our Christian lives.

A “conviction” is a concrete belief or stance that the church or individual believer will not sway from despite the repercussion or change in the world’s social climate. A compromise of convictions allows worldliness and the desire to please the flesh to infiltrate our churches and in turn our households. The spiritual and Biblical “color” of the church with Jesus Christ as the head is being blurred by the “color” of man-centered worldliness.

The need for physical comfort has replaced the pews with theater chairs. The advent of online church and the implementation of seven services each Sunday has divided and separated the unity of worship once enjoyed in mass. Most concerning, however, our pulpits are being filled with “preachers” who give “talks of self-help” and “self-empowerment” instead of messages guided by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. The church cannot be governed legalistically. However, we are to be a separated people from the beliefs of the world.

It is helpful to inquire of ourselves whether our list of convictions has grown or lessened since we were saved. The church has greatly comprised its convictions by allowing much of the world in its spiritual walk. We must ask the question, “have these changes had a positive impact to strengthen the root of individual Christians and the family’s walk with Christ?” Is the message we are preaching effective in reaching a lost generation? How can I tell if my church is losing its core spiritual convictions?

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Accepted By the World

A church that is accepted by the world has lost or is on the path to losing its conviction. The teachings of Jesus and His ministry were not aligned with the beliefs or standards of the world. Jesus explained in John 15:19 “if ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Simplistically, if my church and the world are in total agreement, my church is not Christ-centered and has lost its salt and conviction. The church is losing its salt by recanting the age-old justification of the need to change with the times or the need to connect with the younger generation by “speaking their language.”

Church branding has forced the church to become an institution of the world focused on consumerism by implementing light shows and the music of the world. If these changes or modernizations compromise the church’s core convictions, the church is spiritually useless for kingdom purposes. The words of Jesus in Matthew 5:13 warned, “ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” The purpose of salt is to be a preservative for the believer and the church. Equally as important, however, the salt is convicting seasoning for the unbeliever. Paul wrote in Colossians 4:6 to “let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

The church’s answer to the lost world is the delicate balance of grace, mercy, and a sprinkling of the salt. The primary ingredient of our spiritual conviction is salt. Our God is loving and full of grace and mercy. However, He is also a God of judgment who has expectations for the believer. He does not suspend his attributes of love and mercy in the exercise of his hatred of sin and judgment. 

preacher pulpit empty church

No Excitement for the Preaching of the Word

Today’s “new” church is full of worshipers who are excited and enthusiastic during the music portion of the service. However, that spirit seems to depart during the preaching as the “speaker” rarely cites or uses the Word of God.

Pastors are relying upon stories, movies, magic shows, and contemporary books to support a message void of any meaty scriptural context. Pastors who rely fully on online outlines and commentaries have no power and unction of the Holy Spirit. The new church is effective in preaching eternal heaven but is moving away from messages of eternal hell for those who have not placed faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Paul charged Timothy in 4:1-2 to “preach the word” no matter what the social climate or who might be offended. The lack of bold preaching of the Word quenches the Holy Spirit. In turn, the church becomes a lukewarm body similar to the Laodicean church described in Revelation 3:14-22. The early church in Acts desired and welcomed the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. These saints were empowered, and the Holy Spirit gave them the ability and desire to boldly preach salvation through Jesus Christ despite threats and resulting martyrdom.  

Acceptance and Agreement

The modern church is dangerously shifting toward a body accepting and being in agreement with any lifestyle choices. Certainly, our Savior was one who loved and commands us to love both the lost and the saved. However, our emphasis on acceptance is dangerously trudging across the line into a line of agreeing with the sinner’s lifestyle and walking hand in hand with the theology of the world.

Paul warned in Colossians 2:8 to “beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Sure, the church, just as Jesus, is to accept the sinner as he or she is. However, we cannot “look over” and “wink at” the sins among our church bodies. Such negligence hinders the work of the Holy Spirit.

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Pushing Out of the Holy Ghost

We are hindering the work of the Holy Spirit as we negligently allow our churches to lose their convictions. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:19 to “quench not the Spirit.” The church must hold true to the convictions of adhering to the preaching of the Word of God, seeking the power of fervent prayer, being dedicated to the study of the Word of God, and basing every program toward the salvation of the lost by faith in Jesus Christ.

Jeremiah 6:16 says “thus saith the Lord, stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein.” Many of our churches are looking for a new path and reinventing the wheel with a squared shape. Professing Christians are increasingly confused as the gospel is being taught and preached as a self-help doctrine and a right of prosperity where we are empowered by our own abilities. Preaching these doctrines is harmful to the church because the believer feels God has failed them when he or she remains in a state of poverty and depression.

Absence of Doctrine

Paul taught in 2 Timothy 4:2 to “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” In Titus 1:9, we are told to hold “fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” Thus, “sound doctrine” enables us to exhort and convince.

A conviction can be described as perceiving our sins in the same way God sees our sins. If the church is not taught why it takes a certain stance, the members will attempt to contrive and rationalize a doctrine that fits their current lifestyle. The loss of conviction and failure to take a stance result in a church negligently allowing false doctrines to infiltrate its four walls. False doctrines permit us to have females being ordained as pastors, allow those living in sinful relationships to be church leaders, and a worship service modeled by the world.

Conviction sets a standard for the church and its members. Confusion abounds when the standards or the “colors” of the church are blurred. This blurring is the allowance of the world to influence the convictions of the church.

feet up watching church online due to coronavirus

Convenience and Comfort

Conviction of the Holy Spirit can be an uncomfortable feeling. Conviction shines a light upon a darkened area of our life and a realization of an aspect or habit which hinders our relationship with Christ. It was the conviction of the Holy Spirit which gave us the realization of our lost condition. For the believer, this conviction similarly brings to our attention the presence of sin affecting our communion with Christ.

In John 9:39, Jesus described Himself as bringing judgment and vision to those who are blind, but blindness to those who see. The church lacking conviction today sacrifices its beliefs for comfort and convenience modeled by the world and flesh. Our studies and scientific data bring forth new visions but contribute further to our spiritual blindness.

Multiple worship service times and online broadcasts are wonderful resources for the providentially hindered. However, these conveniences and comforts can foster a lazy believer dependent upon worship tailored to fit our worldly lifestyle. Our praise and worship are costly, not convenient.

Salvation Through Cards or Membership

The desire for numbers in attendance, memberships, and online views has contributed to the loss of our church’s convictions. We feel that the number of views from an online service is related to the entertainment value of the service.

Decades ago, the church began to change its spiritual convictions on salvation. It went from a change within the person because of the presence of the Holy Spirit as a result of salvation, to the signing of a card or shaking of the pastor’s hand following a mere profession of belief in Jesus Christ. The Bible clearly tells us that Satan and his demons believe in Jesus Christ. They know of both his existence and his power. Salvation on the other hand is a faith placed in Jesus Christ as Savior for salvation, guidance, and sustenance.

By objectifying another’s salvation to membership or signing a card, the church is eroding its Biblical stance on salvation for the sole purpose of numbers and popularity.

Conviction Should Change Us

Our conviction of the realization that Jesus makes a change in lives should be a primary focus. The justification of us by and through the finished work of Christ creates a conviction toward growth and greater sanctification. The process of our sanctification leads to greater convictions and a greater desire to be separate from the world.

Conviction by its mere definition denotes a staunch and adamant belief that will not be compromised. We as individual believers and leaders within our local churches must be on guard in this increasingly sinful world from the eroding of our convictions. Our core conviction is the sole reliance on Jesus Christ and not our own understanding. Worldly thinking results in worldly compromise and our churches cannot afford it.

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Chad Napier is a believer in Christ, attorney at law, wannabe golfer, runner, dog lover, and writer. He enjoys serving his church as a deacon, Sunday School teacher, and fill-in preacher. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter. He and his wife Brandi reside in Tennessee with their canine son Alistair.

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