29 April 2005

Is the Church Dying?

This is the dirty unasked question many of us in traditional churches don't want to ask ourselves. Over the years there have been various "fixes" for churches. Go back to the50's and you will find a whole series of books on bus ministry. Yes, the churches would send out buses to pick up Sunday School kids and bring them to church. There were whole programs with songs, etc. Then high church services, charismatic services, dialogue evangelism, seeker services and so on. But inspite of glowing references from so-called experts, how much good did it do?
When did the slide begin? In the book, the Culture of Disbelief, the author (whose name I forget) asserts that the slide began in the 19th Century. His theory is simple: the problem is that the church would constantly change. First it was against something and now it was for it. For example, the church was against Christmas trees and the celebration of Christmas, and now it was pushing it. People began to wonder, what would change next? What did the church believe in?
How should the church react to demands for change? It is all too easy to simply let the culture determine what they wanted and then are we the church? Are we the consumer driven church or are we the church motivated by the Gospel of Christ? The problem is that we are not even asking the right question. Programs do not save people, Christ working through His people is what reaches the world.
Some of you will give the "I'll do anything in my church to save a soul!" answer, but what about making a commitment to someone. Programs don't reach people, people reach people. What the programs of the past mentioned but soon lost, is the need for personal involvement with someone else. Will you take time -- yes, your precious time in this overstressed time -- to commit to another person. Take time to take Christ to them and not just the ritual fellowship during the Divine Service. So before you ask someone the "Kennedy Questions," get to know them, their needs and fears, get to know what is important to them. And then growth happens, happens to everyone and even the church itself. Doc Steve


At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, hon. Thanks!

Very, very powerful. You're so right.


At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Gloria Cameron said...

Hello Steve,

I'm a colleague of Sandie's. I enjoyed the articles you wrote. You're comments are thought provoking. I'm coming to slowly realize that what passes for Christianity is religiousity .... not spirituality. And it makes me reflect that most of my "Christianity" has been the religious kind not the Spirit kind. I'm on the journey as you are. You are blessed to be farther along the path and can share your discoveries. Keep writing it's a treasure that should be shared.

I will bless you when I pray.


At 12:56 PM, Blogger Rags said...

Good call.

The essence of saving the church is to get out of the way and do as God directs us. I've come to learn that it is not my job to "save" the church. It is God's church and He will handle it. I am called to be faithful to my call, to do as he directs, and to pray fervently for His Guidance. Take a look at "The Safest Place on Earth" by Larry Crabb for an awesome insight into real Spiritual Community, not the superficial religiosity that passes for community in most churches. Community means getting to know people, invest time and prayer in them, and love them, warts and all. Most churches don't want people with warts. They are too much work and cost too much money.

Sad, but true

Nice blog steve.

At 10:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Spiritual mulitiplication. People loving people...the second command that Christ gave us.

IF, and I mean a powerful IF, we submit to our Lord like He asks us to in His first command....the second command becomes less of a challenge.

You are so right...it is not programs or events or activities...it is people loving people. That is why Terri has quit her corporate work and is beginning to work in the Navigator ministry at UNI, with me to help on my off days at the fire station; she believes she can make a difference in some gals lives at UNI by just being there...loving them where they are at.

The most desired gift we want and can offer...is our focused attention in one anothers lives. Listening, caring, understanding...loving.


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