I have been pondering about something that I think about a great deal, and that is the condition of the church. As a pastor going into a new year I all way evaluate not only myself but the condition of the church. In doing this, I begin to read several things and also listen to a lot of different sources about the church. I was listening to a podcast by Carey Nieuwhof, and on it, they were talking about how the millennial generation was looking for churches that were authentic and have sound doctrine. In the conversation with people that had been hugely successful in reaching this generation, they said that they did not want to come to a church that did not cost them anything but if they were going to give their time they wanted their life to have a purpose.
I thought about this as it comes to the condition of the church and I had a thought. I have been in the church for fifty years now, and I have seen a lot of things come and go. In my youth, everyone came to church. I mean if you did not go to church you were looked down on in society to some degree. The church had been the centerpiece of the community. Pastors were apart of bank boards and were held in high esteem within the community where they served. In many places, politicians did not dare go against the church in fear that they would never serve in office again. In that day those that did not want to live for God, but knew if they were to be accepted in the community had to go to church, began to seek out churches where they could feel the least conviction. They wanted to go to church, but they did not have a desire to be the church. From that, we began to see churches spring up that taught only grace and never conviction and we build big massive facilities and started all these individual programs. The money came in, and the church spent it on things that would make the worship experience more comfortable. The problem with that way of doing church is that it quit costing the individual anything. The church was comfortable and required less and less from those that were apart of it. We may have had Christians in the church, but we had very few disciples.
The problem was while the church was living the high life they did not realize that society was changing and a cultural shift was taking place. The church became silent, and by the time the church realized what was happening the church had lost its place in the community. The church is no longer the center of the community, and the church is no longer the only place where people can connect. No longer are people looked down upon if they do not attend church and for the most part, people are no longer attending church the way they once did. Churches are finding it harder and harder to find people that are committed and finding it even harder to find people that are willing to sacrifice for the church. Now I know we have some mega-churches that are blowing and going, but if you are not careful you look at the few megachurches in the country and think that is the way ever church is operating, but the truth is that many churches are struggling as they continue to work under the old paradigm. Something has to change.
I believe that the millennial generation and those below it are showing us the way. I know the millennials have issues but look at those that are coming to church. They want a church that brings purpose into their life. They do not have to go to church because of cultural pressure, so if they come, they are coming because they are looking for something, and what they want is something that is real. Around the world, the Pentecostal church is growing by leaps and bounds. Young people are pouring into the Pentecostal churches that are real and authentic. Worship is not just something that sparks emotion, but it is something that is given to bring glory to God. They are looking for a message that challenges them to live a holy, powerful, and Godly life. If they are going to give their time, then they want it to produce something in their life, and provide them with a purpose in this world. That is the gospel of Jesus. The gospel is as real as we can get and it is costly to our flesh, but it produces results in our life, and it brings us into a true and great purpose for God. I believe that the church has to get back to preaching the true Word of God rightly divided. Preach that there is a cost to living for God. Preach that there is a sacrifice in living a Godly life, but He is so worth the sacrifice. Preach holiness, discipleship, commitment, and generosity. Hold people accountable through love and call them to fulfill their purpose in God no matter what the cost. Make the worship experience all about God and nothing about personal preference. Let the church be a place where people work, serve, worship and fulfill the purpose that Jesus has for their lives. Give control of the church to the Holy Spirit and let Him move as He wills.
When we do signs and wonders will follow, and people we come, a generation will come. The church is not dead, but the true church is arising out of the ashes, and the glory of God is moving. His presence is coming into His church. Be His Church.