GoingFullCircleBlog

Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission for Christ

Sizing Up the Landscape of American Church

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Image “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” Luke 19:41–44, NIV

During Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, he looked into the near future and foresaw the Temple under siege by outside forces. He prophesied that this institution of Jewish religion would fall to destruction. Just a few years from that day the prophecy was fulfilled.

Today, the institutional church is under siege. Just as in Jesus’ day, church people like you and me are blind to the part we are playing in the process of its downfall. It’s quite possible that you have not paid attention and are still assuming that all is well in our churches. We who have lived most of our lives inside the walls of churches have a tendency to live in our own world, don’t we? But if you are paying attention at all, you have an inkling that things are not like they used to be. Attendance is down, budgets are tight, and friends are being released from staff positions. Statistics point to the church’s diminishing influence in society, and we are being laughed at in the secular media.

1. According to Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, in the U.S. 65 percent of the Builder Generation (born prior to 1946) is Christian, while just 35 percent of the Boomers (born 1946 to 1964) and only 15 percent of the Busters (born 1965 to 1983) claim a relationship with Jesus. The numbers for Generation X and Y (born since 1984) continue this dramatic downward spiral. In Great Britain and Europe, there are places where only one percent of the population is in church on any given Sunday.

2. In a 2011 study, the Barna group discovered that 41 percent of all Americans are unable to identify any individual who they consider to be an influential Christian. Even in the Bible Belt of America, church attendance is losing ground quickly.

 3. Church growth experts say that as many as 30 to 40 percent of our existing churches could close their doors within the next 25 years. This statistic is not limited to traditional churches only. Churches started just 10 to 20 years ago with contemporary worship styles are just as liable to fall into the church club car trap. Would it really matter to your community if your own church closed its doors today? Would your neighbors miss your church if it no longer existed? Those are tough questions, but we must ask.

Click on the “Comment” heading up top on the left and share your feelings about the church’s statistical decline.  Are you surprised? Where do you see decline in your own church? How do you feel about it? Who will dare to share???  MP

(photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/tudedude/3523850114/”>tudedude</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;)

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Author: Mark Powers

Director, Worship and Music, South Carolina Baptist Convention, Columbia SC. Author - "GOING FULL CIRCLE: Worship that Moves Us to Discipleship and Missions" - www.GoingFullCircle.org (Resource Publications, Wipf & Stock, Eugene OR, 2013) President, www.WorshipWise.com - Growing Brilliant Worship Leaders . Presenter/Speaker on the MusicArts Mission Movement (M3). To contact MP about presenting or speaking for your conference or training event, e-mail markpowers@scbaptist.org or call 803-227-6166. I would love to come and share how your worship ministries can join God on mission in your community!

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