I was recently at a dinner with some of the Executive Team of an international ministry. We were discussing their incredible impact on the world and how God was doing “exceedingly, abundantly beyond” anything anyone could imagine.

At some point, our conversation turned to what we do at Sherwood. I was asked about what makes up the DNA of the church. What are the things that are important to us? When I’m asked these kinds of questions, I usually have no clue where the questioner is coming from. But what I discovered in that conversation was a lot of like-minded people.

They say you should never move a fence until you find out why it was put there. I don’t want to sound like an old, out-of-touch Baby Boomer, but I think we’ve moved too many fences in our churches. In an effort to “reach the lost” we’ve taken down fences that were placed there for a reason. In my denomination, we’ve been moving fences for 25-30 years, and we are baptizing less people than we did in the 1950s. If we were seeing cultural impact, I might say, “Yes, it was right to do that.”

However, seeing the divorce rate in churches the same as the culture, seeing kids walk away from the church in record numbers, seeing a decline in people willing to serve, seeing a generation that doesn’t even consider tithing, I think I have a valid case for putting some fences back up. It couldn’t get any worse than it is now.

We are losing the battle for the souls of men. We are losing the battle for the culture. We have already lost the battle over marriage, sexual issues, and morality. America today is as pagan as first-century Rome, and we have social media to back up that statement. My humble and accurate opinion, which I highly respect, is that we are producing a Christian faith that is nowhere near New Testament in its commitment, outreach, prayer, and understanding of truth. The largest denomination in America is the “Ignorant Brethren” and the “How little can I do and still get to heaven?” follower.

We moved fences, and we lost our children. They’ve got more activities than any generation in our history, but they aren’t learning to be salt and light. Why? Parents are more interested in travel sports teams and other extracurriculars than in raising up the next generation of preachers, teachers, missionaries, and soldiers of the cross.

We’ve accommodated and compromised so much that our methodology is accommodation methodology even if our theology is not. We want people to like us, so we water down the sermons, and fall short of calling sin what it is.

We are in a crisis in our country, yet there are very few calls to be a people desperate for revival. Our churches across denominational lines are in decline or closing their doors, but we do little to honestly address the issue. We’ve given up the inner city because churches don’t want to make the changes necessary to do “whatever it takes” to reach the city. We’ve taken the steeple out of the inner city and it’s been replaced by strip clubs, night clubs, and gangs. We will be held accountable by God for this shameful decision.

We are more interested in church growth than church health. You can grow a crowd with what we are doing, but are we making disciples? Are we developing people committed to the lordship of Christ? It is my belief that we are merely building churches that attract people who want miracles – “Give us more bread,” “Fix my life” – but aren’t interested in going to the cross. Jesus had those followers, and the overwhelming majority left Him when He started to walk toward the cross. Their descendants are in our churches today.

What fences have we moved? I’ll be called an old-fashioned, out-of-touch preacher for this one, but most churches have done away with Sunday nights. I’ve heard all their arguments. People in the cities are traveling…it’s the one day families have together…blah, blah, blah. So the church did away with Sunday nights. The end result is that we don=t have better dads. Sunday night “family time” is dad taking in a late round of golf, mom in the kitchen, and the kids watching TV, playing video games, or searching the Internet (probably without a filter). Sunday night has become a night for people who aren’t doing much as a family and are certainly lazy after God.

So what if the crowd is not big? Read the Gospels. Much of what Jesus said was to His inner circle, His core group. When a pastor gives up Sunday nights, he automatically loses the opportunity to speak to the core that, in essence, is the heart of the church. Let’s be honest – we can all count on one hand the number of great soul winners, disciple-makers, servants, and workers who just give God one hour a week.

We learn life, faith, grace, and hope in community. If you read Paul’s letters to the churches, he’s writing to the body, not to individuals. He’s writing about how a church, a body, a family should function. We are better together than we are individually. We learn from one another. We encourage, challenge, stretch, pray for, and love one another in community. There’s accountability when the body is together.

Every week I prepare two completely different messages. It takes me countless hours to prepare these series, but it’s worth it. We have about 55-60% of our Sunday morning crowd come back on Sunday nights. We do discipleship on Wednesday nights and have about the same number as we have for House of Prayer and Worship on Sunday nights. I love our Sunday night services. Why? People choose to come back because they want to grow. They aren’t observers watching us on stage; they are participants, seeking to go further and deeper in their walk with God.

I need Sunday nights. Given a choice, I’d preach Sunday night and let someone else preach Sunday morning. No matter how tired I am…no matter how exhilarating the Sunday morning service has been…Sunday nights are where I find my stride. I put more work into Sunday night sermons because I want the folks who come back to feel it was totally worth the time and effort.

Another fence the church has moved is prayer meeting. It seems that if you have a prayer meeting, you are considered irrelevant. Yes, prayer meetings deteriorated into little more than a list of those in the hospitals. But for the love of all that is holy, pastors, you can change that. Where’s your prayer meeting for the lost in your community? When do you have an organized meeting to pray for prodigals, those on mission trips, or for the vision of the church?

As long as I am allowed to serve as a pastor, I’m going to emphasize things that make disciples and allow the Shepherd to speak into the lives of His sheep. I don’t want the sheep that know my voice to be under-nourished. I don’t want to be in a prayerless church where prayers are confined to the offering and benediction. Jesus said, “My house shall be a house of prayer for the nations.” I’m going to keep my fence up and continually look for ways to make the church I serve that kind of praying church.

One last word for pastors… “Peter, do you love me? FEED MY SHEEP!” One meal a week won’t cut it, pastors. When I read what Wesley, Whitefield, and others did and how many times they preached a week, I’m embarrassed to think that I’m only preaching twice a week to the sheep God has entrusted to me.

Just a thought.

11 thoughts on “

  1. Thank you, Pastor Michael, for speaking truth and showing how I can pray in more detail about not only Sherwood but my own pastor and church.

  2. Yes! Yes! Yes! God has been telling me in prayer that what my sheep need is saturation. Keep opening opportunity for worship, discipleship, and service. Yes, my brother! Yes!

  3. So true Pastor, we must continue finding ways to get the church back in tact. Although, there are many factors that envelope the big problem, we need to fall on our face before GOD and pray. I find myself praying at least times daily, and all day in between tasks. My spirit is so overwhelmed withhow I see things changing rapidly. We must constantly remind ourselves that the devil is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour and a hater of the saints of GOD. But as his power and spirits roams the earth, GOD will grant much more power to his saints. We must always pray and not faint. Our GOD is a big GOD. We must build back fences to protect our faith and family. No matter how difficult it gets we can overcome until the end. Thanks for sharing truth. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve worked with some of the toughest kids; knowing that praying with the school everyday, everything end those who wore black, and into satanic involvement live are different constantly reminds me of the power of prayer and that we must continue to be faithful, and he will take care of the rest. GOD BLESS. I’m sure you are an inspiration to many who see our world rapidly changing.

  4. Thanks for this insight! It seems that we have lost our way and use efforts to appeal to people on the world’s level. We had a heated discussion in our Sunday School class Sunday morning about just exactly what you are talking about . Programs and busy ness are not the answers we have tried that. I believe it begins with the Holy Spirit touching lives with conviction. anointed preaching and teaching that presents our Lord Jesus as the only way and responses that change lives . That is what it is all about an encounter that changes lives so much that the world will take note one has been with Jesus, our Redeemer and coming Judge. Some would have us water down the Truth so as not to offend to draw more in, gain bigger numbers but doesn’t that describe exactly what our Lord said would happen in the last days? Not endure sound doctrine and heap to themselves teacher having itching ears? Thank you for your faithfulness and steadfastness. Your influence on our daughter , Dawn, when you were her youth minister has had a lasting effect.

  5. I say Amen and Amen! Preach on brother! I happen to be one of those old fashioned evangelists whose heart is breaking as I watch the shallow committment and dry eyes in the church as souls plunge into hell daily. Keep up the great work you are doing!

  6. So thankful for Sherwood and our pastor’s love for the Lord, heart for the lost, and commitment to his job as Shepard- we are very blessed and Sunday nights are family time at Sherwood- time to grow deeper in our walk and pray for others

  7. I just read this. Great message. Wednesday nights are prayer meeting for us. It is so encouraging to spend 30 or 40 minutes hearing short prayers from people who would never pray publicly otherwise. Something starts happening and the typical prayers for the sick start taking a second row to prayers for our church, the lost, our nation, and a close walk with Christ. When I finally close, we know that we have been in Prayer meeting. Thank you for the message.

  8. Friar,
    Word! We have brought this hysteria society upon ourselves via compromise. We must be bold and stand firm. If we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything. As a people, we are very full of self and far from God.

    I remember when you read the Inscription in a German Church…
    Ye call Me Master and obey me not,
    Ye call Me Light and see Me not, …
    Ye call Me Life and desire Me not, …
    Ye call Me just and fear Me not,
    If I condemn you, Blame Me Not.

    I remember you told us (circa 1987) that the divorce rate for couples that prayed together daily was 4%. Praying together is one fence that must be built in a marriage!

    You missed the funeral of Vance Havner because you were leading Camp Sagamore and kept your commitment that week. You would not move that fence.

    Blessings to you for speaking, teaching and preaching Truth for over 30 years, without compromise.
    You & your family are always in my prayers.

  9. Spot on. Thanks for this reminder. And I pray the content of this article will be noticed and implemented

  10. I don’t know you Pastor Michael Catt, but the words that you write show me what’s in your heart…:)
    I love reading your posts…We need Godly men to rise up in this nation and to lead their families back to the cross…
    May God bless you!

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