The Church in Transition
May 17, 2010 Leave a comment
Church as we know it is changing right before our discerning eyes. The old traditions of how we do Church are slipping away with the passing of the “greatest generation”. Along with their cultural religious preferences we see their money leaving the old institutions and it may never return. Some pollsters believe as many as 20 million evangelical believers no longer go to church on a regular basis in America.
Even though there is an increase in the number of mega churches, the net growth of believers remains the same or has decreased. In parts of the country where the population has increased 45% we see no growth in the percentage of believers over the last 20 years. It appears that instead of believers taking up their crosses and pioneering new territory in their communities, they are looking for highly produced services and church amenities to meet their consumer needs.
There are church growth experts that believe we will see a drastic decrease in the number of churches from the current 425,000 to half that number by 2050. Some see this as the “great falling away” depicted in the Bible, while others see it as the inevitable backward slide of western culture just as Europe has been sliding into oblivion. The places where Christianity has been the dominate religion for centuries appears to be losing ground.
Yet Christianity around the world is exploding in growth in places it has never been the dominate religion. Wherever Christianity is in its infancy, where it is cruelly persecuted and possessing new territory, it is pure and untainted by the deadly encroachment of religious form and stagnation.
Does this mean that wherever the Church of Jesus Christ has been established in a region for a long period of time it is destined for institutional rigor mortis and death? No. Not if it transitions into maturity. We submit that is happening by the grace of Jesus Christ as never before. Just as Jesus predicted; the tares and the wheat are growing up together until the end of the age. Everytime you see some gross example of unrighteousness and wickedness taking society over be of good cheer; it also means that God’s wheat is also maturing.
But where is this Christian maturing happening? It is happening where the voices of the apostolic, prophetic and evangelistic graces are received by the Church at large. Much of the ministry of the Church has been dominated by matriarchal ministries, primarily those with a pastoral or shepherding grace. These ministers provide the safe, secure and predictable environment of home life where mom nurtures and cares for new believers or those recovering from sin’s consequences (addictions, divorces, illness etc.)
Yet just as Egypt was a place of provision for the young nation of Israel, it later became a place of bondage. It became a place of slavery to another man’s egotistical monuments. Christians often become enslaved by the traditions and rituals of dead religion as well. Many believers who fall away and leave the Church have simply missed the next phase of their development. They were right to feel bored with the milk they have been receiving. Many fall away while sitting in the pew and are miserable like so many young adults who are too old to stay at home with mom but have yet to connect with the fathering graces (apostolic/prophetic gifts) that help them find their place in kingdom employment. Believers cannot reach maturity from the Sunday morning pulpit. There must be a time when fathers take us under their wings and we become an apprentice in the things of God.
This is the essence of the apostolic reformation; fathers taking the children of the household of faith onto maturity. Wherever those with apostolic and prophetic gifts work with the pastoral/teaching gifts along with the evangelistic gifts we see the Body of Christ transitioning into maturity in that locality or region.
To learn more, read “Working Together for Jesus”. http://onelordonebody.com/working-together-for-jesus/