Friday, February 22, 2013

What's A Church To Do?

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, — Matthew 28:19 (NASB95)
The population is growing faster than the church is. Because of that, younger generations are more confused about the church and Christianity than ever. The good news is that many churches are focused on doing whatever it takes to help a new generation know and follow Jesus. – Dan Kimball, Outreach Magazine
There’s great concern today throughout the United States, and among churches of all kinds. It seems that people are leaving churches, and fewer young people are showing any interest for investing themselves in the church. Those are sad, but sober facts. We can say we don’t like that news, and that’s fine, but we can’t hide our heads in the sand and deny reality.

There are lots of reasons for this decline. Churches bear a lot of the fault. We come across as too judgmental, not compassionate or caring, overly political, and interested in the wrong things. Those perceptions and more are real. We might want to argue, but we really need to listen, then we need to reassess ourselves and the way we communicate with others.

I'm certainly not suggesting that we change the gospel, or any of the biblical record. That’s not only not necessary, but it would be wrong. But the way we communicate needs to change, and the way we relate to people outside the church must improve. The alternative is that disinterest will grow, more people will either leave the church or fail to participate, and if that happens long enough, individual churches will die. Maybe a lot of them. I don’t think we really want that to happen.

A great many people who are talking about this sound as if they are ready to throw up their hands and surrender. Church leaders are frightened. A lot of preachers are busy pointing fingers of blame. We’re inundated with “experts” who tell us to try this magic formula or that one. What’s a church to do?

I have a couple of suggestions. First, we need to get positive. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most positive thing in the world. It saves the lost, redeems sinners, changes lives, and gives hope both for life and eternity. Now is the time to refocus on the best of all things.

Second, we need to get to work. We do that by trying new things, new ways of reaching out to people, new ways of communicating. In all of that we’ll probably find that human needs are the same as ever, but we need new ways of reaching those needy people. What’s a church to do? A lot! And so we learn new ways to reach new people.