September 5, 2013

From Vibrant to Dying Church

Had a conversation with a friend who recently visited a church. She said that the attendance was slim on Sunday but full during the week, because of the church's preschool ministry. In fact seeing 3 school buses in the marketing lot was what made her choose that church to visit in the first place. During her visit she learned how the church was stuck in the past and refused to grow, driving away prospective new members. With the age of the congregation, it is only a short matter of time before the church will have to close--a very sad story.

But as she talked the name of the church rang a bell in my head. I remember also visiting that same church years before. At that time it was alive and was active in Lay Witness Mission program, which was a successful renewal movement. The church also hosted what was then called "contemporary worship." In fact, several big name Christian music folks got their start performing in that sanctuary. As far as I could see, no church member flinched when the musicians brought in their guitars, drums, and sound equipment.

So what happened? This church went from being on fire for God to being wet blankets, saying "no" to anything new and different.

Perhaps they need to be reminded of their past. Or perhaps their success was frozen into tradition. I don't know, but, as we all know, it is up to every generation to pass along our Christian witness in a way that it will be received by new people; not so that they will do it like us, but so they can adapt it to their own situation and then pass it along to others.

Like it or not, to shine a dependable light into the world's darkness, our Christian faith has to have the Church as an institution. Faith is more than that, we all know, but the Church as a gathering place and organization is necessary. But the Church cannot exist for long without fresh air, which breathing the Holy Spirit provides.

Pray for your church.


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