Kurt Marquardt said -The church needs harried disciples willing to multiply and serve God’s blessings and we seem have the 4000 sitting down and waiting to be served.
President Harrison said – Today the fundamental gift and task of the Lutheran Church is to bear witness to Jesus Christ – to His Gospel and all its facets.
A Pastor wrote – Why, after decades of the most intense catechetical instruction, does our church body suffer the same malaise that all Christian denominations are suffering and that is a loss of membership and the daunting fact that we are not even replacing the members that we lose through translation into eternity?
A book called “The American Church in Crisis”, by David Olson breaks down church membership and attendance county by county in the United States and it is frightening. Membership in mainline churches is steadily declining. Organic churches are on the rise with people trading sanctuaries for living rooms. Even online faith communities are growing, but churches as we have known them are steadily declining.
Is there an answer? The apostle Paul seems to be pretty direct when he tells Timothy to preach and instruct in season and out of season and there will come a time when no one will listen. Yet he rejoices when there are results.
1 Thessalonians 1:8 For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.
Paul commended the Thessalonians for a faith that led to a “witness and a missionary lifestyle in the world”. Jesus alludes to this type of witness in Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Peter whose letters show the missionary lifestyle of the “Kingdom of Priests” says much the same when he tells his readers to live by “having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:12.
Is a part of our malaise the fact that it seems we have a closer connection to a building a set of doctrinal formulations than we do to a living Savior? Can it be that with all of our preaching and teaching we don’t challenge people to that witness/missionary lifestyle? Can it be that we preach the Gospel that always motivates, but we never give the hearer something to do? Church attendance is down, but charitable giving and volunteerism is up. What is going on?