What Happened To Them?

April 8th, 2015

I have been in church for all but three years of my life. Having grown up in a pastor’s home and having been a pastor now for more than 30 years, I have seen my share of Christians walk out of a church they have attended for years. I have witnessed spouses married for decades walk out on each other. I have seen kids raised in a good and Godly home not only walk out of their parents’ home, but also walk away from their parents’ faith. I’ve seen preachers walk out, deacons walk out, young Christians walk out, and older Christians walk out. “What Happened To Them?”

Any discerning, sincere Christian wants to know why people leave churches, why spouses leave each other, and why people will make a major course change right in the middle of their lives. Our first reaction is to wonder what was wrong, or who disappointed them. Did they have an eye opening experience? Was there something wrong with their spouse, their church or their situation?

I want you to remember one very simple and yet profound word – the word Momentum. The reason many people walk out of their commitments, walk out of a church, or walk out on their life situation is they have lost momentum. Momentum is a commonly used term in Sports, in Business, in Relationships and in Ministry. A team that has momentum is a team that is on the move and is going to take some effort to stop. Momentum is a physics term; it refers to the quantity of motion that an object has. Momentum can be defined as "Mass In Motion."

When you have momentum in a church, in a marriage, in a career, in a business, or in a family, everything seems to go right.  When it comes to achievement, momentum is a leader's best friend. But once momentum is lost, it is nearly impossible to get back. It is more easy to maintain momentum than it is to try and restart it once it is lost.

A study of the life of King Solomon is a classic example of How Momentum Is Built. When God offered Solomon anything he wanted, he humbly asked for leadership wisdom above all else (I Kings 3:9). He made many wise decisions that won him credibility (I Kings 3:28). He maintained the peace (I Kings 4:24). As a leader, he surrounded himself with many wise associates (for example: Azariah, Zadok, Abiathar, Zabud, Jehoshaphat, Benaiah, Adoniram, Ahishar, Zabud).

However, it is more easy to Build Momentum than it is to Sustain Momentum. I’ve learned that momentum does not sustain itself. It all begins with our being willing to accept responsibility for our marriages, our ministries and our own personal spiritual momentum. I have to direct the momentum in my life rather than let it direct me. I cannot become calloused, careless and carnal, or I risk losing my momentum. From time to time we all must fight the temptation to become lazy and fall into a comfort zone. Whenever we begin to coast, it is only a matter of time before we begin to see our momentum start to slip. Often times frustration, failures and the general fatigue of life can cause us to take a sabbatical that is a little too long. Before we know it, our church life, our married life or our family life has become stale and stagnate. Suddenly, we let the hurts, hindrances and hardships of life stop us dead in our tracks. Our momentum is gone, and we start thinking that if we change churches, change addresses, change careers or change spouses we can get our joy and excitement back. But we are never further from the truth than when we get to this place.  The right kind of momentum is never gained by doing the wrong thing.

To rediscover and recreate the momentum that I have lost, I must first admit that I have lost my momentum. I don’t need to quit my job, quit my church, quit my ministry, or quit on my family. The next step I need to take is to identify the Motivating and Demotivating factors in my ministry, my marriage and my own mind and do a Checkup, not a Checkout. I may need to reevaluate my schedule, my priorities and yes, even my commitments. I do not reevaluate so that I can back up, but rather to refocus on what’s really important.

We must also not forget that there is a “Great Falling Away” predicted for the Last Days. Scripture gives every indication that many professing Christians will move in increasing velocity away from the things of God and toward the things of the world. In the days ahead, it will be increasingly difficult to swim against this powerful current. It is hard to maintain spiritual momentum when forces from many directions are trying to pull you away from Christ, away from Church and away from your Convictions.

I found a list recently that is not original with me, but is so powerful and profound that I thought I would share it with you. Many are losing momentum simply because of the ever increasing powers of darkness and deception that are permeating our culture in these Last Days. This list is called the Momentum Test. These are signs that you and I are becoming a part of the Great Apostasy foretold in the Scriptures:

1. Prayer is either nonexistent or at best mechanical.

2. You know the Word of God but you don’t really live it.

3. Earnest thoughts about eternal matters no longer stir and grip your heart.

4. You can indulge in inward and outward sin without feeling devastated.

5. A longing for holiness is no longer a predominant passion of your life

6. You're more focused on your liberty in Christ than you are on your responsibility to Christ.

7. The pursuit of money and possessions is the primary focus of your life.

8. Your main concerns are your temporal, earthly life.

9. You no longer hunger for a deeper life in God.

10. You don’t live with a full and grateful heart.

11. You have little concern for the needs of others, and make little effort to meet them.

12. Your giving is a chore and you justify not tithing.

13. Sports, entertainment and pleasure are important aspects of your life.

14. You are more concerned with your image than with the reality of your life with God.

15. You are full of bitterness, hurt feelings, criticism, and you are not going to take it any more.

16. You have a head full of Biblical knowledge, but your heart has become cold, calloused and hard.

These three tasks are the hardest for someone to perform who has lost their momentum:

1. Admit and discover why you lost momentum.

2. Get your stalled ministry, marriage, relationship or situation started again.

3. Change direction and get  back on course. Without forward progress, it’s  difficult to change. Without forward progress, it is nearly impossible to change.

Sadly, for most folks it is easier to quit than it is to take the correct course and regain lost momentum. May this help us all to have a better understanding the next time we hear someone say, “What Happened To Them?”