Thursday, January 1, 2015

Ten Reasons I'm Hopeful for the Church

A change in calendar year means lots of essays, opinion pieces, and articles focusing on both the past and the future. In this post I'll offer my own look at things. Specifically, I'm suggesting ten factors that make me hopeful for the church.

We all realize that the church as it is has both positives and negatives. On this blog I tend to focus on much of what needs to be changed and how that can occur. I truly am hopeful for the body of Christ as we go forward into 2015. Ten reasons why:

1. Jesus Christ remains the Head of His church.

Our Lord and Savior is in charge. This has never been up for debate. Jesus will ultimately accomplish what He desires with and for His church. He is and will always be the unquestioned King of His people.

2. The Holy Spirit is active.

The Spirit is alive and well. He gives life to the church. He guides the church. He bestows spiritual gifts. The Spirit is the engine that drives the church to do what Jesus wants. The Spirit never stops.

3. Christendom continues its disintegration in the United States.

Christendom has only ever actually existed in the West. It is basically dead in Europe (except for inside the Vatican). It dies more every day here in the USA. This is a good thing. Christendom is like a veneer of Christianity sitting on top of a corrupt society. It is far more damaging than helpful. I live in the last bastion of Christendom: the Southern USA's "Bible Belt." I'm happy to say that it's even dying here.

4. Persecution is increasing around the globe.

Is this a good thing? Yes, it is. In the New Testament we read of a persecuted church. Persecution brings about a purer and healthier body. It weeds out most of those who aren't truly committed to Christ. In the USA, we don't currently face true persecution; however, the cultural climate is now set for it to begin a gradual rise.

5. More and more people desire true community.

Our modern society is increasingly individualistic and isolated. People desire community. The church is the only place to find community based in the One who gives life. This community thrives in carrying out the one anothers. It is an exciting thing to be part of.

6. Christians are increasingly tired of the same old, same old.

Christians are growing more and more disillusioned with institutional practices. More and more are leaving traditional churches forever. The worship services and programs seem increasingly repetitive. These folks are looking for something more (like the true community mentioned above).

7. Christians see the need to make a difference.

Church attendance appears to be mattering less and less to many people who follow Christ. Instead, they want to make a difference in a tangible way in their communities. They understand that God doesn't take worship service attendance, but He does care if we care for the needy.

8. Old Testament based practices are failing the sniff test.

Many institutional church practices find their (shaky) basis in the Old Testament. Christians are increasingly calling this into question. Big buildings with their huge expenses cannot be justified. Worship services find no evidence in the early church. The modern pastorate is foreign to the New Testament. Christians are no longer simply buying in to the old ways of thinking.

9. The world is gradually being reached with the gospel.

Although it is a slow process, the gospel is making its way around the globe. More and more unreached people groups hear the good news each year. In some places, such as China, the church is exploding in number. This is a thrilling time.

10. The Dones are growing.

Those done with institutional Christianity (like me) are growing in number. We are not Nones (those with no religious affiliation). Rather, we are Dones. We are followers of Jesus who want to follow Him as we read in the New Testament. The growth and recognition of this group is a positive. It also gives an option to other believers who can't find a home within the institutional framework.

In this post I've painted a bit with broad brush strokes. Many, many believers continue to be very happy and content with institutional Christianity. Many others aren't questioning anything. However, I do see some changes beginning.

John Wycliffe is frequently called "The Morning Star of the Reformation." I believe we are at a similar time within the church. A reformation is starting. While there is no one person who is a morning star, hope is rising for great change to come within the body of Christ.


Randi Jo :) said...

Yes! I think we are living in one of the most exciting times for His church in our country!!! I love the cleansing and purifying He is doing !! The stripping away of "stuff else" as my kids say!! Hehe praise God!!! What most people get depressed and fearful about .... we are excited about!

Capt. Morgan said...

While I agree with some of your comments, I see a minimalist trend in your assesment of the Church as an institution and the brick and mortar congregations. This ideology has been voiced before, in several denominations, going back many centuries.The iconoclast movement was much the same. Early Protestants were much envolved in minimalizing the faith. I do not begin to claim to know whether The Lord is impressed or repulsed by our Churches, but the minimalizing of our worship seems to me to be applying a bandaid to an artery bleed. The problems are much deeper than how opulent one's church is. And as a native born southerner, well attuned to the bible belt, there have always been weeds mixed in with the wheat, and there always will be, but thst in and of itself does not reflect on the church as a whole.
God Bless.