I find myself grappling with a trend that I’ve seen happening in the Church for the last few years.
When I reference the Church, I don’t have a particular church in mind. “Church”, in this context, is the global church, the church around the world, or the Body of Christ. I’m not singling out a particular person or church as I’m writing this blog. The trend that I am talking about is people leaving the Church. Not just a few people here and there, but people leaving in droves…
Some are hurt or disappointed by the Church or leadership. On this subject, there is little that you can tell me that I haven’t experienced. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but when it comes to Church, I’ve seen more than most. Church split? Lived through it. Abuse and manipulation from church leadership or fellow church members? I’ve received these types of attacks often!! Observing moral failure or financial mismanagement? Sadly, I have witnessed this more times than I can count…
The only thing that I can equate a church split to is a really messy divorce. I saw family and friends during this time get so preoccupied and disillusioned with the things of God, that they turned their back on the God of things. Many of them have never returned, vowing never to go back to church, ministry, or God.
What I find really interesting is that they blame God for what has transpired – as if man had no hand in the whole ordeal!
It’s too convenient to forget that God is not the One who causes these things… Unfortunately, it’s His kids (who are so far from perfect and still struggle with sin) who are most often the perpetrators of these hurtful situations.
Covid, in my view, was a huge catalyst in people withdrawing from the Body of Christ. I’d like to think that Covid took the “Church” out of the four walls – that it took it back into the homes where families can sit around the dinner table at night. Then, after sharing a home-cooked meal, they study Scripture together. That is my utopian thoughts on the matter! I know some friends who have done just that and replaced Sunday church with a healthy Bible study at home. But, the reality is that the vast majority of Believers are not doing that.
Does the Church have a part to play in what is happening? Absolutely! The majority of churches have become a big show. The focus is on the dimmed lights, smoke machines, the right music and – of course – we have to be careful not to offend anyone in the way we conduct our services. Pursuit of presence has been forfeited for convenience.
Mathew 24 talks about a time when there will be a great falling away, where offense and betrayal and hate will abound, and that the love of many will grow cold. This is the portion of Scripture which talks about the Signs of the Times and the End of the Age. Is this the time in which we find ourselves? If so, what are we as “the Church”, as the children of God, supposed to do?? I may never have all the answers, but I know that the author of the book of Hebrews says in chapter 12 that we should fix our eyes on Jesus, to consider Him and to not grow weary and lose heart!!!
As for me and my house we will buckle down and do the work of the ministry with more fervor than we have before. Our assignment and mandate as the Church, or the Body of Believers, does not and has not changed! Matthew 28:18-20 is still applicable! We are still commanded to make disciples of ALL nations, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and to teach these disciples to observe all the things He commanded!
And while we carry out this Commission, we must remember a few things:
Ensure our lamps remain FULL of oil and that we anticipate His return (Matthew 25).
Pursue an even deeper, more intense relationship with our Savior.
Take every opportunity to make Him known to those with whom we come into contact.
In the end, my primary motivation (regardless of if I have been in or out of full-time ministry) has always been that when I finally stand in front of Jesus one day, I will hear the words:
“Well done good and faithful servant…” Oh, what a glorious day that will be!!!