We are in a time of great social change and tremendous economic upheaval. More than economical and financial – this is also a time when values and beliefs are undergoing close scrutiny as people begin to question much of what they have simply assumed to be true – social security, annual holidays, a regular job, owning a home and a car.
Churches are undergoing terrific chanllenges as they see their incomes shrink and people becoming increasingly busy with life and less active in the local church. Staff are being laid off in many churches. Some are in the process of losing their buildings due to financial shortfalls. Leadership is having to rethink their approach to ministry and evangelism as well as rethinking their priorities and methods. Attracting the community to the Church is no longer as imporant as sending God’s people out into the community. Programs and strong personalities are not having the results they use to and the big three (buildings, budgets and bodies) are becoming harder to maintain.
In the midst of all this change – people are not becoming less spiritual but are actually becoming more interested in things spiritual as they are seeking spiritual solutions and comfort. They are looking into the spiritual realm and thinking about spiritual issues. People are interested in the supernatural. However, due to our reputation and focus over the decades these people – young and old – are not looking to the Church. Instead they are looking to New Age, spiritism, and eastern religions. The Church, it seems, has done such a poor job on letting the world know what it is we are all about and what our true message is – that people are not generally looking in our direction for comfort, solutions or answers in their search for spiritual truth and the supernatural.
This is not a season for laying low or keeping the status quo. We must know deep inside us that we have been called and anointed for such a time as this. A challenging time. A time when many are turning away from the Church and others are looking for spiritual truth anywhere but the Church. A time when what has worked no longer works. A time of questioning of values and beliefs. A time of decreasing interest in the Church but increasing interest in the spiritual and the supernatural. We, the believers, need to know that we were born for such a time as this and thus not skrink back and hope this all blows over one day. No, it is a season to be aggressive and proactive.
Leaders – it is a time when we must have God-given assurance that we are in the right position, at the right time, equipped and able, with God’s help, to do the assignment that He has placed before us in this season. We could grit our teeth and barely survive while dreaming of the better days – the past which is never as good as we remember or the future that is yet undetermined and may not be as good as we hope it will be. Or, we can know that we are apppointed by God for this time and place – this challenge and set of circumstances – and thus stand up in the raging storm and be prepared to take the blows without complaining while persevering and continuing to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is able to save a man’s soul.
We are called to be salt and light in a world that is tasteless and in the dark. The world today needs people willing to connect with their neighbors and become a real part of their communities and thus becoming the salt of the earth and a light in the world. Our culture today needs people who actually live in hope and are quick to explain the reason for the hope that they have. The world (and the Church) needs leaders who know how to lead in the midst of uncertainty and turmoil and who will not back down in the face of opposition even as the darkness continues to grow and thus the challenges become even greater. Men and women of hope who can ignite hope in others.
It is time for the Church to be the Church and to stop playing Church.