Wednesday, March 11th, 2009
I recently read a headline and an article that said, “Christianity on the Decline in America”.
I’d consider whether or not church attendance decline represents a decrease in Christianity or just a decrease in church involvement. From what I am hearing all around the country, solid Christians are discouraged about what the churches are doing and the lack of effectiveness in training, equipping and outreach in their emphasis.
Years ago, the typical church schedule included Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday nights for the average Christian family. This allowed for several times each week to emphasize the different aspects of the Christian life. I remember hearing that Sunday evenings were often called “church training”.
Today, most families’ schedules are so hectic, they primarily only go on Sunday mornings. Many churches emphasize reaching out to those who are lost or guests and lack the biblical training and equipping of Christians in the Sunday morning service. Some have Sunday small groups but these too are often lacking in equipping Christians for maturity and outreach – if the families attend at all.
All of this to say, many mature believers are standing back from their church involvement asking themselves why they are there. Some are leaving for smaller groups that are more focused on issues important to them and authentic connection with others for edification and challenging support.
I have personally seen more church “splits” than I can remember. These are often quarrels about the church structure or leadership vs. members. When the split occurs, there is a remnant that moves on to more powerful service, ministry, and personal growth. Typically 1/3 stays with the church organization, 1/3 moves on to a new work together and 1/3 wander around for a season not motivated to do anything. I wonder if God is allowing us to divide to get us out of our comfy places, the familiar daze of the moderate Christian life.
I heard a Christian leader say recently, “If we don’t change the way we do church, we will lose an entire generation”. I take this a little further and say we have already lost many and it is very important that we consider how we must change in order to be the powerful life changing entity that God intended us to be.
I pray that Christians will be more equipped each week for the ministry of the streets! We may find ourselves forced into smaller groups so we’d better get used to closer quarters and relationships.