Note: In January 2011 my wife and I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This post is part of a series of blogs I have written to convey what I learned while on this life changing trip. You can read about the entire trip in the devotional book Touching the Footprints of Jesus.
The surface of the Dead Sea is 1,300 feet below sea level, making its shore the lowest dry point on the entire planet. The Jordan River and a number of other smaller tributaries flow into the Dead Sea, but since it is so low, there is no outlet. The water that flows in to the Dead Sea naturally carries minerals into the Dead Sea. As water evaporates, the minerals are left behind because there is no way for them to go anyone else. Over the years, the level of mineral content has grown to somewhere around 34%, whereas the ocean would be only 6-7%. All these minerals make it impossible for anything to live in the water.
The Dead Sea is beautiful lake to look at. It has crystal blue water. But there are no fish in it or fishing boats on top of it. There are no fancy lake houses around the shore. It is an interesting tourist attraction and provides a brief moment of relaxation and fun, but is unable to provide the life giving resources that most lakes offer. Though modern technology has allowed the extraction of some minerals from the water, which are used in the cosmetic industry, the lake itself can offer no life.
As I reflect on that experience, it seems to me that many churches are like the Dead Sea. They have numerous “rivers” of talent, skill, financial support and ministry programming flowing into them, but often lack a conduit that moves the focus of the church outward. All those resources begin to build up in the church and instead of providing health and life; they will eventually kill the church. Such churches may look good from the outside, and offer some “cosmetic” assistance to people, but they will not be fishing for men. They may offer a brief respite for Christians from the difficulties of the world, but will not be able to offer the Water of Life to the spiritually thirsty.
Lord, keep our churches fresh by allowing us to have an outward flow and an upward flow, not just an inward consumption.