THE CHURCH IS LIVING IN CHALLENGING DAYS
I read just today in Charisma news that the largest Protestant church in U.S. The Southern Baptist Convention shrunk by over two hundred thousand members in 2015. Until recently they have continued to see growth where almost every denomination both Catholic and protestant has seen decrease. We now live in a generation of “cultural Christians” who say for example “I am a Baptist” but NEVER darken the doors of a church. Then there are others who are regular at church ONCE every two or four weeks, because other things in their lives are more important than attending church. In past generations Christians were regular because they attended church services twice on a Sunday, and also went to Sunday School.
The only exception to this trend are the Pentecostal denominations, for example in U.S. the Assemblies of God grew by 1.3%. The Pentecostal churches are the fast growing all around the world!!!!!
The report also indicated that if it wasn’t for first and second generation migrants (coming from countries where there has been aggressive Missions ministry over many years) every denominations figures would be much worse.
This is the same picture here in Australia, most churches are NOT growing, the exception being the Pentecostal churches, like Hillsong and Planetshakers (both part of what was called the Assembies of God now Australian Christian churches. There are a few Evangelical (non Charismatic) churches that are growing, and their increases helps to limit the shrinking within their denomination.
I have a very good friend who I served with for a number of years says for example that Hillsong is a “winning formula”. Again if you visit their churches you will see a large percentage of first and second generation non-Australians in the congregations.
to me the big question is “ARE WE PLUNDERING HELL AND POPULATING HEAVEN”?? The answer is a big NO. We now live in an almost totally secularised society where God and His Church is not given a thought.
This situation has developed over the last fifty years, and has accelerated in the last twenty years. As a child and a teenager (60 years ago) there was a degree of “God consciousness” in the community this has slowly disappeared. Sixty years ago there were Sunday Schools in our capital cities that had over a thousand children attending each week, Sunday sport was introduced and the church was not flexible enough to adapt and look at other ways to reach out to children, and so we lost a whole generation.
In less that fifty years these things have developed.
Homosexuality has been decriminalised.
We are looking at the possibility of same sex marriage before the end of 2015
The safe schools debacle
The Victorian government is considering a bill on Euthanasia
Our nation’s foundation was built on Judeo-Christian ethics, but the above and many more has swept those ethics away.
HAVE WE LOST THE PLOT?
It is not over yet, things can change. As the sign on President Truman’s desk said “THE BUCK STOPS HERE”.
WHAT MUST WE DO?
The church needs to REPENT for not continuing to be SALT & LIGHT in the community, and also need to “stand in the gap” for our nation in intercessory prayer.
Positively, we must ask the question how can we turn things around?
GOD’S COMMAND TO MOSES AND KING DAVID
Build my House (Tabernacle & Temple) “ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN THAT I GIVE YOU”.
The result GOD’S GLORY CAME AND DWELT IN THE HOUSE.
We have the pattern clearly spelt out in the New testament for us,
Anointed unadulterated preaching of the Gospel
The person and power of the Holy Spirit to be relied upon in the Church
v.42 Teaching/Discipleship Apostle’s doctrine
v.42 Quality Christian fellowship
v.42 Breaking of bread (Holy Communion)
v.42 Real Holy Spirit empowered prayer
v.43 A Christian lifestyle that produced fear in the community
v.43 Signs and wonders done in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ
v.44 All the believers were one in every way.
v.45 Regular attendance at worship in church and in homes
v.47 The result, having favour in the community and Salvations DAILY
You may say this is all so simplistic, this is the twenty first century, not the first century.
METHODS MAY CHANGE BUT THE MESSAGE MUST NEVER CHANGE
In God’s economy IT IS STILL HARVEST TIME NOW, let us shake of the lethargy of the day, and reject the deception of the evil one, come back to our first love, and :
BUILD OUR LIVES AND CHURCHES ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN OF THE WORD OF GOD
Can I hear an amen, and a response, that by God’s grace WE WILL TURN THINGS AROUND.