I have read so many articles and books with the statistics neatly packaged with comment and prognosis. The polls can be extremely discouraging. The trends are not good. Reading and following the polls indicate that fewer and fewer people say they need religion. Whole generations are abandoning church. The secularization of the world is increasing, not just in the western world, but across the whole world. As prosperity increases, the need people feel for religion and supernatural intervention decreases. This is true in emerging nations as well as developed nations.
While the polls predict and report decline, we have churches working hard to reach the current generations. There are some very successful churches categorized as mega churches. The statistics say they only represent 4% of church going people. There are a number of reasons for decline. We can always come up with reasons for down turn, but we have very few, if any, answers to turn the tide. Effort has been made, but somehow it comes across as consumerism. Churches are required to cater to an ever increasing number of niches of consumerism. People tend to shop churches like they do at the mall. Does the church provide all the bells and whistles that we think we need? Many times it is children and teen services. Does the church have the facilities for kids? Do they have a vibrant youth program? Sadly, most of the people I know that made a move to a church where they felt their kids would be affected by the youth work have been disappointed in that their kids are now not attending church or serving the Lord. What went wrong? Even some of the parents are now marginal Christians with sporadic attendance.
I like statistics. It gives me a feel for the bigger picture. I also have tried to make adjustments in style, decor, media etc. to be more current with styles and communication. However, all the lights, sound, decor, have not produced an earth shaking rush to church. It has made the atmosphere pleasant and there have been appreciative comments, but no one has become a believer because of the videos, the sound, the music.
So, I have been thinking, praying, pondering, meditating. What are we going to do to change things? Stem the tide of defection? Reach the generations up and coming? What we have been doing has produced people coming to church that live no differently than the rest of the world that does not go to church. That is not working.
I believe that we have to think differently. We do not need to compete with the world. We miss the point about who we are and our mission. The mission is not church attendance. Our mission is not religion. We have to stop talking about church; start talking about Jesus. We must talk about sin and God’s answer to sin. We need to express repentance. Most people need to experience the revelation of their deep lostness and separation from the Creator. Knowing how lost you are, makes the savior that much more precious and amazing.
We do not need more polls, we need Jesus, not the western civilization Jesus, but the Jesus who died and was resurrected for mankind to be saved from sin, darkness, and eternal damnation.
Amazing, the cause of Christ thrived for two millennia without youth groups, Sunday school, and all the other special consumer programs. It was multiplied by the revelation of a risen savior who was truly the Son of God. The message and mission must return to its core values and purpose.