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Living In Grace

A Christ inspired work dealing with American Christian Culture in the New Century.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Have we Lost??

I was confronted with something tonight. Something that was shocking, although it probably shouldn’t  have been considering all I have seen of and heard about the American church in recent years.  Maybe what I encountered was common in Third World Countries, the dark jungles of  Africa,  or behind the old Soviet Iron Curtain, but not here, not in my community.  There was no way this was happening,  not tonight, not so close to home…..

According to a 2004 Barna Group study, since 1991 the number of the unchurched in the United States has nearly doubled, from 39 million to 75 million, while the population has only grown by nearly 15%.  Men are the most unchurched at 55% and the average unchurched person’s median age is younger than that of the rest of Americans.  The church is getting older while the youth are abandoning the faith of their parents.

Numbers from a more recent Barna study show some improvement by including the organic church movement ( home churches, cyber churches, etc ) in with the conventional church going numbers.
1.  The unattached- those with no church affiliation come in at 23%
2.  The Intermittent- the under-churched.  These are people who have participated in either a conventional church or an organic church within the last year 15%
3.  Homebodies- People who have attended a home church 3%
4.  Blenders- adults who attended a conventional service and a home church 3%

Have we grown so fat and complacent spiritually that we can no longer be bothered to compel them to come in? 

The Great Commission ( Matthew 20:19 ) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. ( Acts 1:8 )

We have forgotten both of theses commands.  There is no other conclusion that can be drawn from the numbers available to us.  We cannot make disciples in far away lands while our neighbors are lost and without hope.  What are we to do when nearly 25% of Americans are completely unchurched?  Do we recklessly say that this is God’s will and leave them to their fate?  To have compassion for the lost does not diminish God’s sovereignty in the salvation of sinners and it is time for the true church to take a stand, get active, and follow our Lord’s commands.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?


Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.  Faith is impossible without the hearing of the precious Word of God, the Gospel, which is the Good News of Jesus Christ.  It was not a request that we witness in the power of the Holy Spirit and consequently make disciples, it was and is a command.  It was and is an imperative of the faith. There is no lee-way or wiggle room to escape those words.  We cannot run far or long enough ( Ask Jonah ) to remove these words from our hearing: Be my witnesses in Jerusalem ( our community ), Judea ( our county ), Samaria ( neighboring regions of even those you dislike ), and to the uttermost parts of the Earth ( self-explanatory ).  The making of disciples ( followers of Christ ) is a sign of a healthy, vibrant, and growing church community being obedient to their faith.

……” I don’t know anything about God, don’t, ummm… haven’t been to church much, “ mumbled the five year old blonde haired and blue eyed boy in our Wednesday night class.  Here it was, the heartbreaking and unconscionable fact that here was a child who lives within minutes of my church who had never heard of God before.

but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

….but how could he ever believe without hearing? I felt as if the millstone was already hung about my neck and the long slow decent into the depths of the sea had begun.  How may others like him are out there?  How many are we missing while safely tucked away behind our four walls?  Is an entire generation lost?  Have they been abandoned by us in favor of programs and glitz?  Let me reiterate:  God is Sovereign in the affairs of man  but He has ordained us, as wretched as we  are, to preach the Gospel to a lost, sinful, and dying world.  What a great privilege and responsibility it is to minister the Word of God to those around us.  What a honor it is that God has made us fellow laborers with Him in His grand plan to redeem and reconcile lost humanity unto Himself.

Can we reach the next generation?  Has the church lost its relevance and ability to correctly convey its message?

We are a light on a hill, how can it be hidden?

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5 Comments:

Blogger Carla@3-foldcord.com said...

Amen! It can be overwhelming knowing how many in our own country who have not heard of the saving message of Christ's Gospel. I think there are a number of reasons this is happening. First of all, I think the church as a whole, lacks the faith. We are told if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can move mountains. But we refuse to believe that we can move people. If we let the Holy Spirit lead, the church can reach millions of people, but is the Holy Spirit who we are following? Or are we following the words and actions of men?

Also I think churches have gotten so caught up in being hip and relevant that they have forgotten about outreach. It's all about what's in the building, and these churches can be surrounded by poor neighbors who have never heard about salvation. There is something wrong with that. I wrote about this very thing here: http://www.3-foldcord.com/2011/02/agoraphobic-christians-why-are-we.html

I also think many churches have fallen into the trap of politics. They think if they follow a certain party and side with them that politics will save our country. It is putting faith in men instead of God. Conservatives aren't going to save us, neither are liberals. Christ will. But so many churches have latched onto taking polarizing stances that Jesus gets lost in the debates and protests. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13 that everything we do needs to be done out of love. If we could all take time to look at our motives and discern if we are acting out of love before we act we could change the way the nonchurched views church.

But I truly believe in the troubling economic times we are facing, the church will be a beacon to the lost. I think it's already starting. We are on the verge of great numbers coming into the fold. The church's message of hope will stand out in stark contrast to the fear and desolation the media and government offer.

Great post! Thanks!

March 31, 2011 at 3:54 PM  
Blogger Luther said...

Thanks for the comment...and just to let you know I really enjoy your blog so far.

The church should for the most part be a-political. I have my opinions on politics and I think I know how certain issues should be voted on but we as believers are not commanded to usher in God's kingdom here on Earth. We are to preserve the Word in whatever culture we are in and to be a light wherever we are. I completely agree that when all else fails people will turn to religion...but will a weak and largely illiterate church be prepared for them

March 31, 2011 at 4:05 PM  
Blogger Amanda Daubenmeyer said...

Wow, I just finished my blog for Monday and it has to do with this. God must be speaking this to us.

I lost a family member last summer who I failed to witness to. I honestly think Christians are afraid to witness, I know I was.

I pray for boldness and the right words to minister to others, and most importantly I pray that others would see Christ in me.

That's probably the main reason for a high fall away rate from the church. We are not representing Christ very well. Along with preaching salvation, the church should be teaching people how to be disciples for Christ.

Luke 14:33 says, "In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple."

We need to lay down everything that hinders the power of the Holy Spirit in us so that God can use us to reach others.

Thank you for another great post!

Blessings:)

March 31, 2011 at 6:35 PM  
Blogger Luther said...

That is true Amanda...we are often afraid to open our mouths and speak the truth that is within us.

I am afraid that discipleship is very often uncostly and to many Americans are unwilling to pay the cost

God bless and keep the Faith

April 1, 2011 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Wonderful post! I love this and am so scared of what our country has come to.
I pray that I will have the strength to share with others the love that our Lord has for them!
It's just so scary how many out there just don't know this, and that because of that their children might never learn either.

‎"Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" James 2:17

April 1, 2011 at 1:25 PM  

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