by Robert Earl Houston
Sigh . . .
It seems like everyday a different provocateur of the modern Christian Church is posting the obituary of the Church. They proclaim death, destruction, apostasy, and a mass exodus upon the Church in favor of a societal shift away from the Church.
But are they right?
Is the Lord’s church dying or is there a shift by our congregants? In my perspective, an argument can be made for a reduction of worshipers, but in the nation at large.
In the last decade, according to US Census Bureau, the 200s (2000-2009) has seen the slowest population growth in over 50 years. The nation has grown only by 8% with only a 3% (Midwest and Northeast) factor.
The fastest growing cities in America, with growth over 170% are not known as great church cities – Lincoln City, CA; Surprise City, AZ; Frisco City, TX; Goodyear City, AZ; Beaumont City, CA; Plainfield Village, IL; Pflugerville City, TX; Indian Trail Town, NC; Wylie City, TX – only one, Louisville, KY, has experienced seismic growth.
Church wise there is a shift but its not always traceable. The Southern Baptist Convention has been losing members steadily for years only to have their numbers propped up by the growth in non-anglo churches, particularly African-American and especially Hispanic-American congregation.
The worship settings for African-Americans is rapidly changing. When I was a child, you were either Baptist or Methodist. Now, the choices have expanded to charismatic, Apostolic, Independent, House Churches, and even churches of different cultures as our sons and daughters become involved with persons of other races. However, we (as African-Americans) continue to see the rise of mega and multi-location churches.
My point is that the church is not dead yet.
Perhaps all of these spiritual prognosticators should consider putting down their pens, logging off of Facebook, and get back to ministry. How about preparing sermons that actually work? How about developing lessons with forethought and energy instead of last-minute preparation? How about spending time in prayer that “the Lord of the Harvest would send forth laborers, instead of decrying and in some cases celebrating the loss or lack of congregants in a church.
And those of us who read need to make a second-look at the emphases that these writers are making. It’s like the Facebook Super-Pastor who says “everyone is not preaching the gospel” when they haven’t left their pulpit in so long that the chair has conformed to their body shape.
I intend to celebrate the church – in all iterations: The mega, the large, the medium, the small, and even the storefront. To have a mega congregation doesn’t mean that their work is more significant or to look at the storefront is to say that they aren’t about anything. The church of the Lord is not a “one size fits all” department store – it’s a mall of speciality stores. I have friends that have memberships in 10,000 or more and I have friends that see 5-10 every Sunday. Both works are important and I celebrate them both.
So when I get e-mails from these “church specialists” many who are nothing more than a Pastor with a laptop, I refuse to celebrate their celebration of the church dying. I’d rather celebrate with the Founder of the Church, of the Church triumphant.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED