Today I want us to look at the state of the church in America. We see its values being attacked on a daily basis and its effect on the American culture lessening continually. Church attendance is shrinking and the message is becoming confused with false doctrine. In short, we are steadily losing ground
Churches are trying different strategies to try to turn the tide, but nothing seems to bring lasting results. One of the cries is that the church is out of date and boring, so some churches are changing the format to include a different type of music and dress code to make people feel more comfortable. The doctrines are being watered down and compromised. Some churches are promoting the “prosperity gospel” that is measured by physical prosperity. While it is true that the attendance does increase for a time and the excitement is there, it is also true that many of the traditional values are driven out of the church and when the emotions subside (and they will) and when the music style changes (and it will), then the same results of a diminishing core will certainly follow.
The reason that these will be the results will follow is that they have not identified the real problem. It is just as my father used to say, “you can’t fix it until you know what is broke.” Attendance and excitement are not what makes a church effective. In reality, it is much easier to fill a church with people than it is to fill a heart with hope.
There are several flaws in this type of approach to building a church. First of all, we need to remember that the church belongs to the Lord. It is not our church and therefore the ultimate responsibility is His and not ours. He is the one who has the power to convict of sin, and He is the one who will draw the people to come. The point is that He will fill the church in direct proportion to the room we make in our hearts for Him. God is willing and able to turn the tide but His grace is frustrated by our refusal to surrender the control of our lives to Him. As long as we cling to the controls of the church, we prevent God from working as He wants to and our faith is in our abilities instead of in Him.
As I shared with you in my last blog, the object of our faith is the Lord. Not in what He will do but simply in Him. We need to trust His working and not our programs. We need to trust His promises and not our ways. Our faith must not be in our ability but in His ability to effect change in us first and then in our living in His ways. Here is a glimpse of what that means: new life comes from the death to the old life; gain comes from giving; greatness comes from serving; humility and compassion trumps power and authority and Love never fails. When the lost world sees the life of Christ in the believer, then that is the only thing that will satisfy the hunger of the heart. No other plan of man will work to stabilize the church. The problem is not in what we are doing but is in our failing to live by faith in Him. Romans 14:3 states that whatsoever is not of faith is sin and Hebrews 11:6 states that without faith it is impossible to please Him. That is why I say we are in a Crises of Faith. We are religious but not righteous. 2Ti 3:5 Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.