In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
I spent 30 years of my life and ministry in the institutional church serving the Church Train. As a worship and music pastor, I poured my life into providing the best Sunday worship experiences that I could lead our teams to produce. No, the doorposts didn’t shake, there was no smoke, and the Lord never appeared visibly, but worship was quite good, if I do so say myself. Many times as I walked off the platform after Sunday worship I would think with satisfaction (paraphrasing a famous chicken restaurant slogan), “We do church right.” The choir and orchestra had sung and played their best; the praise team had lifted us up with excellence; the pastor had preached an inspiring sermon; and the congregation had worshiped with full participation. My calling as a worship leader had once again been fulfilled, and I could look to the next Sunday and plan for another high time of worship. And that was the total sum of who and what I was as a professional minister of music/worship leader, to my way of thinking at that time.
But then my life took a dramatic turn. After 28 years in local church ministry, God called me into denominational work to equip and train churches for worship and music on the state level. I began to hear and see the statistics that I quoted in earlier blogposts. I had never realized how church decline was sweeping the modern evangelical church. “How could this be?” I thought. Surely these numbers must be wrong. We may not be doing great, but I certainly thought that we were holding our own. After all, we do church right.
But the facts were correct, and the decline was inescapable. And the more I visited churches and studied the findings, the more I could see it for myself. I became discouraged. I was hurt. I was horrified that the beloved institution I had served for 28 years was rushing toward a fall that could wreck it. While my heart recoiled in frustration, my mind immediately began to question and look for answers.
SO WHAT DO YOU THINK??? If the way we are doing church is leading us to a steep decline, what can we do about it? Where did we get off on this track headed in the wrong direction? How can we get on the right track? What have WE personally been doing wrong all these years? Join the conversation by clicking and leaving a reply or comment. I want to hear from YOU. Let’s do some soul searching.
(Photo from Twitter @jaroland74 via Ed Stetzer Blog at http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer)