…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14
In some communities, there’s a presence of declining or dying churches,
in relatvely prosperous countries,
without the threat of persecution.
Travelling around, seeing church buildings and land sold, … re-purposed as pubs, art galleries, etc …. its rather sad.
These buildings and lands are sited in prominent locations on valuable land; years ago, a thriving congregation lived, worshipped and gave sacrificially to purchase the land in the heart of the city.
Now an empty shell,
Yes, its true the church is not a building …. its about people,
Just stumbled upon an interesting, passionate “crowd-sourced” analysis of the possible causes.
I rarely read all the reader comments of an article, but the more than 100 comments (and still growing) on this article are worth reading, as each person brings his or her own personal experience to the discussion; a good cross-section of full-timers and lay people …. different perspectives of the elephant … straight from the gut.
…. way down the long list of comments, someone penned this insightful thought :
“Reading through all of these comments,
not one touched on prayer.
Our churches should be houses of prayer … “
here’s an excerpt from another comment
“The decline of the church is in large part because it has disconnected from its power source. How many churches still have a regular weekly prayer meeting? Of those that do, what amount of that time do they actually spend praying? And of the time praying, how much of it is for the health and success of those present or their extended family or friends?
God created humans so He would have someone to have relationship with. He loves us so very, very much. What does our actions say about how much we love Him, and the importance of spending time with Him. ….”
methodologies, slogans, programs, good music, slick packaging, blessings, church consultants, ‘feel good’,
relevant, missional, intentional, radical, etc
praying leaders, … houses of prayer ?
… that in all things
He (Jesus) may have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18 NKJV)
And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? …
Mark 11:17 (NASB)
23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
John 4:23,24 (ESV)
how wide-spread is this trend?
here’s a simple google search (click here)
So, what’s keeping people away?
Here’s some millenial generation thoughts on church:
* Why millenials are leaving the church (CNN, click here)
* Want Milenials back in the pews? Stop trying to make church “cool: (Washington Post, click here)
Here’s one about committed Christians
15 reasons why committed Christians do not attend church (click here)
We’ll probably may not agree with everything that’s shared in these articles.
However, its clear that there is a rise in “believing without belonging”, dis-churched believers, … depending on pastor Google, reverend Youtube, church surfing, christian media etc.
Perhaps it’ll be good to ponder on,
how are Christian gatherings different from
office meetings, watching a movie, attending a lecture, watching a staged choreographed performance,
Here’s a perspective from Europe – Germany (click here).
Here’s an inspiring story of how a church revived from decline (click here)
Here’s a perspective by a lay person from UK,
Prof Roy Peacock, a scientist:
“I had been invited by the BBC to be part of a panel examining the question of why church is diminishing in size and influence, and I found myself alongside a number of luminaries including a bishop in the Church of England. The TV programme was going live and the panel’s individuals put forward a variety of opinions. Eventually, the presenter solicited my opinion, presumably expecting some scientific based thoughts. Perhaps the church would be advised to move with the times, introduce aspects of scientific thinking into its agenda, maybe a synthesis of theology with the best that science had to offer. …
If any of this was expected, I must have disappointed. Casting caution aside, I said that the only way in which the church would grow was by declaring the message of salvation, that man must be born again. And I went on to say that until the church was made up of people who had themselves known the experience of being born again, this would not happen.”
Source – Roy Peacock, Paradigm Shift, Authentic Media Ltd, 2013, pg 113-114
… what I least of all suspected,
who went to America to convert others,
was never converted myself …”
In 1738, John & Charles Wesley experienced true conversion themselves; ‘at peace with God’.
In the words of Charles journal, “I saw that by faith I stood.”
John 3:6,7 (NASB)
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I said to you,
‘You must be born again.’
Ezekiel 37:3-6 (NASB)
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry.
3 He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”
4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them,
‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’
5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath ( רוּחַ, ruwach ) to enter you that you may come to life. 6 I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that
you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord.’”
The Word and the Spirit working to bring to life the bones.
hear the word of the Lord, not just a snippet or footnote,
not hear the opinions of men,
hear the word of the Lord,
in His fullness, richness & wisdom.
John 6:63 (NASB)
“… the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”
Luke 4:16-21 (NASB)
14 And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district.
15 And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.
16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, Jesus entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him.
And He opened the book (the Word) and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
20 And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
The presence of Jesus,
the Word of God teaching,
& the power of the Holy Spirit
sets people free.
On a final note,
churches which are not able to disciple, nurture and empower the next generation of believers through their lives, will face challenges to sustain into the next generation.
To Timothy, Paul wrote:
2 Timothy 1:5 (NIV)
I am reminded of your sincere faith,
which first lived in your grandmother Lois
and in your mother Eunice
and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
the story of generation after Joshua may be summarised as
… and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.
Judges 2:10 (NASB)
Hence, children and youth ministries are worthy of support with the best people.
Psalm 78:1-8 (NIV)
My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
3 things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,
6 so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
7 Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
8 They would not be like their ancestors—
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God,
whose spirits were not faithful to him.
God has only children … no grandchildren.
by 林弟兄, bro Lim
June 10, 2014
Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
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