In the past there were many spiritual movements that had small beginnings. They eventually grew and flourished, but now are long gone and forgotten. They are just a footnote in history, of interest only to theologians.
These spiritual movements begun with an individual or a group, that sought to get closer to God. They multiplied and became strong, but eventually they begun to get settle in their ways and spiritual death followed soon after that.
Some churches are in different stages of this process. Some are in their infancy, others in their growing years and others are basically dead. The church buildings and organization may still remain for a long time, but for all purposes and intents, they are rotting spiritual corpses.
Now days the old mainline churches are slowly dying while the Pentecostal churches are flourishing. In their times the mainline churches were spiritual, strong and robust, but over time they drifted away from their foundations and now they are struggling to keep alive.
This is not a new thing, for even while the Apostle John was still alive, some churches had become moribund, yet not one of those churches was over a hundredth year old. How did they decay so soon? The church in Sardis was rebuked thus "I know thy works, that thou hast a name and thou livest and art dead". (Revelation 3:1)
Ossification or hardening of the bones will usually begin in the second generation of believers. The status quo will start to set in and anybody who dares to question it, will be silenced or forced out. Some modern Diotrephes will take over the church. They will impose their will on the congregation, and throw out any member who disagrees. (III John 9-10)
Eventually their evangelistic zeal wanes and they begun a slow but sure decline. This might not happen for a few generations but eventually it will begin. That is why God has to send reformers every now and then to awaken these spiritual churches. But sometimes these churches have reached the point of no return and God just closes them out.
Although I am no longer a member of the organization where I came to Jesus, I still honor and respect that denomination, for I was born in its spiritual bosom. It is with great sorrow in my heart, that I view the settling that has begun in that great organization. I have no doubt that the denomination will still be spiritually alive for many years to come. My only question is, for how many?
Our movement is small, yet I have no doubt that it will eventually grow and flourish, for it is alive and energetic. My only question is how long will it be before we start to grow old? Will my grandchildren believe the same as me? will it be just head knowledge or will they have it burning in their hearts?
Only by preventing ossification will a church remain alive and growing. The only way to prevent growing old and creaky is to thoroughly inculcate the next generation, not only with our doctrines, but also with a hunger for God. Through constant revival the church can keep alive.