An incubator, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is an apparatus designed with a controlled warm temperature to nurture new or sick babies for special care and protection. In other words, it is a place conducive to the growth and health for those fortunate enough to be in that environment.
On the other hand, a refrigerator is an insulated compartment or room for storing food. If a human were to be trapped in a refrigerator he would have to deal with hypothermia and possibly suffocation.
So, is your church like an incubator or a refrigerator? If a new believer were to come into your church, would they be nurtured to health and maturity or frozen into a state of spiritual hypothermia?
Churches with warm-hearted, welcoming, spirit-filled congregations are easy to identify. The members have a second-mile mentality. They will do more than what is necessary to greet you and be hospitable. The people are positive. There is a sense of expectancy. The music is heart-warming. The worship is spirited. The message is anointed. The invitation is clear. The altar is full.
Refrigerator churches are tentative about greeting guests. Services are predictable and seldom vary. The people seem to come out of a sense of duty and look like they are headed for doom rather than glory. There is no sense of expectancy. There is no passion from the pulpit. The songs seem to be sung in a minor key. The altar is empty and congregation can’t wait for the benediction to be pronounced so they can get on with more important things.
The revivalist Vance Havner said, “If a new believer joined some churches he would have to backslide for six months in order to get in fellowship with most of the members.”
Even today’s youth and young adults are looking for warmth, life, and authenticity in their churches. Last September The Washington Post published an article entitled, “To attract young people to your church, you’ve got to be warm. Not cool.” The article stated, “So many churches pour money and energy into flashy worship services meant to make teenagers and young adults think that church is cool. But it turns out cool isn’t what young people want. Forget the rock-ban vibe and the flashing lights. Warm is the new cool.
“We researched more than 250 congregations. When we spoke to more than 1,300 young churchgoers, ages 15-29, they told us what they want: authenticity and connection. In a word: warmth.”
Today many of those who come to faith in Christ are led into that personal relationship with Him by a parachurch group, campus ministry, or television or crusade ministry. If one of those new converts were directed to your church would they be welcomed into an incubator – a warm, welcoming fellowship where they would be nurtured – or into a refrigerator where they would become a part of the chosen frozen?
An evangelist told me recently, “You have been praying for a sweeping revival, but if that were to happen what do we have to put it in?”
I asked, “What do you mean?”
He replied, “A revival needs to be centered in the church. Do we have churches today where the atmosphere of revival would be welcome and where that atmosphere would flourish?”
It is a good question. Is your church more like an incubator or a refrigerator?