Here in Minnesota, where the snow can stay on the ground from November until April and the temperatures frequently dip below zero... way below zero, we have a phenomenon which is known as Cabin Fever. Days and even weeks of staying inside most of the time due to intense cold, ice and snow can get to even the most dedicated homebody. Those who know me here at CB can attest to the fact that I am definitely not a homebody! LOL!
While being cooped up for extended periods of time can make one restless and irritable, it also has another side effect. Excessive sleeping. I fear that many Christians are suffering from "cabin fever".
I've noticed something about vibrant growing churches and Christians. They do not remain inside the four walls (cabin). They get out into the community. They are not simply just doing what we think of as traditional evangelistic work either. They are out volunteering within the community as well... getting to know the people in the community and the people in the community are getting to know them.
I live in a community of a little over 50,000 people. When I mention the name of my church, it is often recognized. When I drive down one of the nearby highways, there is a sign saying that my church has "adopted" that stretch of road. They have also adopted one of the city parks. There are three defibrillators which our church purchased for the town. Rather than having our own food shelf, we support programs already in existence with money, donations and manpower. You get the idea... while we gather at the church for worship and studying the Word of God, we go out into the community.
On the other hand, I have seen church congregations that seldom venture outside their four walls. If they do, it is only to go to the home of one of the members for a prayer meeting or something like that. Don't get me wrong. I am definitely not against gathering for worship or prayer meetings!
However, these congregations usually become very stagnant in regards to growth. The primary way they experience growth is if someone has a baby or gets married. Within these congregations you will often find internal conflicts in which people take sides. There is irritability. The general attitude becomes one of "We want to do... when we get bigger." "If we were bigger we would... " What these churches fail to realize is that at one time larger churches were small as well. My home church started out with 13 people at the first meeting. The pastor was related to seven of them and two people said afterwards that they didn't think this church was for them.
For nine years this was a mobile church which met at schools. The congregation really had no choice but to go beyond their four walls, I suppose! They finally rented space in a warehouse about six or seven years ago and eventually bought the entire complex. Today they own four campuses and run several thousand in combined services.
I remember Christopher Quek ( @arisensleeper ) telling me about the phenomenal growth a church he was pastoring experienced. This church had been struggling but things really turned around when they shook off the shackles of cabin fever and ventured out into their world. May we do the same!
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tinyfroglet/2669515408/