On Church growth…

Yesterday I read a post about the continuing trend of people leaving the church. In particular, this dealt with mainline churches, but can be applied across the board, with some exceptions in Africa, South America and, maybe some areas of Asia. These concerns have been voiced as long as I can remember. They have sparked worship wars and all sorts of new programs to meet people’s apparent wants and needs. From the seeker sensitive to the high liturgical, church leaders have scratched their collective heads looking for ways to keep people in the pews.
One more, Bishop Timothy Whitaker, a United Methodist from Florida has waded into the discussion. He wrote that what these churches may be experiencing is a resounding “No” from God regarding present paths of ecclesiastic practice. Rather than looking for new methods, they should be looking for fresh direction from God. Ok. But, the hoped for outcome is the same. If these churches find God’s path, then membership should grow and stabilize.
But, just for the sake of discussion, I think that’s still not the answer. I mean, so what? Do we have another committee to discuss the correct way to seek and discern God’s will and motivation? And, if they could possibly come to consensus, which is unrealistic, what then? Tear it down and start over? I am reminded about a particular baby and some bathwater. What if we are, actually, already within the will of God? What if we were to take seriously the statement, “many are called, but few are chosen”? Church decline would not be the source of so much anxiety. (Except, maybe for those whose livelihoods are tied to it.) This should in no way stifle our zeal to be ‘gospellers.’ We are still called to bring Yahweh’s reign to bear in this hurting world. But, our focus and concern would be on that rather than maintaining a church roster.

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