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May 12, 2015, 10:57 AM

Is There Hope for the Church today?

At the Leadership Summit in our area that was hosted by Parkway Baptist Church, I heard Bill Hybels make a comment that I completely agree with.  He said he believes that "the local church is the hope of the world."  I agree, in that he is stating that as the local church declares Jesus and preaches and teaches the Bible and seeks to evangelize - that is the hope of the world.  I agree.

However,... the thought, concern that has been going around in my head for the past few weeks, and bouncing around the walls of my heart is this - Believing that the local church is the hope of the world, BUT IS THERE HOPE FOR THE LOCAL CHURCH?  In today's America, is there hope for the church?

I truly believe this is a legitmate concern and even problem.

More and more blogs, articles and even books are being written by people I would consider "experts" - Thom Rainer, Ed Stetzer, ChurchLeaders.com, writing about how to revive the church, church renewal, how to identify if your church is sick or dying or already dead.  (I highly recommend Rainer's book "Autopsy of a Deceased Church")

So what's going on with the local church?  Is there hope for the church?  And by this I mean the institution, the local church of today.

We have read recently about the new identified group the "nones".  Those people, mostly Millennials, who simply have no interest in the church.  They are not opposed to religion, they just don't have it on their radar, they are not interested.

But more recently a new group is being identified as the "Dones".  And this group has no set age definition.  In fact this group covers the spectrum of ages.  People who are leaving the local church because they are simply "done" with the politics, pettiness, lack of Great Commission vision.  They are tired of the religious social functioning that too many churches are stuck in.

Is there hope for the church?

ChurchLeaders.com posted the article about the "Dones" a few months back.  I shared it on Facebook, that evening I received a Private Message from a friend I went to college with.  He admitted to me that he and his wife were a part of this new group.  He had been teaching a large Sunday School class in a good church for a number of years.  He and the church staff were in agreement that to reach new people it was a good time to create two classes out of his one class.  The class members would not allow it to happen, their comments, "We won't allow you to break up our fellowship."  He felt like he had failed (which he had not).  The people enjoyed their social sunday school hour, but didn't want it to change.  He and his wife left the church, he also told me that they were having a hard time finding a church that was focused on the Great Commission.

I must also confess that since becoming a Director of Missions and being able to observe a number of churches, and also have conversations with other DOM's, they are seeing it too, and it is very discouraging.

Is there hope for the church?

On one hand I don't know, I fear in the days ahead a dying off of a multitude of churches.  The internal pettiness, immature fighting and power struggles, the ego's and personal agenda's, and even more the cliques in churches of all ages at war with each other, this is going to kill many churches.

I am also concerned about the trend of America's culture.  As Terry Coy writes about in his great book "Return to the Margins" the church will more and more be pushed to the fringes of society.  Less influence, less exposure, in some cases with the activists of our day churches will either out of fear be silenced, or many will cave to culture and abandon the Word of God for acceptance in society (by the way, this is already happening and why several denominations are drying up).

So, on one hand the church is already in trouble.

And then with what looks like a more radical tactic of the enemy, persecution in certain forms is/will grow in America and cause churches to cave to pressure, as stated above for the same reasons.

There will, Thankfully, remain pastors and churches who will find their strength and purpose in the Lord (sort of scriptural by the way) and stand against and grow stronger in the face of these changes and pressures.

So there is still hope.

What's it going to take?  Ah, yes, there is an answer.  And it's rather simple, well, simple in reminding us, apparently either forgotten or too difficult to inact.

I personally don't believe it is an answer that needs new "conferences" to attend to find out how to go about it.

I also acknowledge that I am a very simple thinking, practical person.  And so to some my next thoughts may be tossed as "too simplistic".  That's okay too.  But afterall this is just a blog, and anybody can blog.

In light of that, I offer the following for consideration.  Keep in mind however, that for these 5 things to help - there must first be the most difficult step of all...

People, Christians, church members and even some church staff members need to - get over themselves, get back to living humbly before the Lord, and lose the personal agenda's.

With that as the beginning here are the 5 things I believe will work.

1.  Micah 6:6 - 8 Especially that last part - :8 "And what does the Lord require of you, But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?"    Hmmm, remember that one???

2.  Mark 12:28 - 31  Known as the Great Commandment.  I think it is self explanatory.

3.  Matthew 28:19 - 20  Known as the Great Commission.  Again, following the Great Commandment it's pretty self explanatory.

4.  James 4:6, 10  Humility, humility, humility.

5.  John 3:30  John said speaking of Jesus "He must increase and I must decrease."  That one verse, that one statement I believe is transforming, revolutionizing and just plain helpful.

I would add one last thought.  These verses of scripture above, they don't need any "deeper study" into them.  I quit believing that comment people would make to me years ago, "Preacher, what we need is some deeper Bible study."  No we don't, we already know more than we are doing now.

What we need is to allow what we know, these verses above, we need to let them go deeper into us, let them change us.  Then change will begin to show, it's not more head knowledge of Biblical facts, it is to allow the truths of Scripture to change us and then to live it.

Is there hope for the local church?  My church friends, that is up to you.

 

 


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