You are not alone… The world is looking at an unprecedented withdrawal of Christian morality and practice. This has created a perfect storm as our churches are being bombarded by the enemy’s attacks on all sides from culture to structure. If our youth is the future of the church, many of our churches are beginning to realize that they simply have no future.
Today there are many thousands of small churches that are in the same boat; the boat where the older generation is holding everything together. Sadly, that boat has been taking on water for some time, and with no new families to replace our older saints, most churches are trying to hold out as long as possible before they are forced to shut the doors. If you are part of one of these churches, this article is lifeline of hope in a desperate hour.
If you really want to reach younger families, you need to let this sink in. The world has destroyed the voice of the traditional model of ministry. Do you want to know what people see in these small churches? They see petty arguments between cliques, they see power struggles and endless grappling for influence and power. They see a building that takes tons of money and energy to maintain and pastors who are treated more like employees than messengers of a living God. Instead of seeing the Light of Christ, they observe groups of judgmental Christians that major on the most minor of things like what version of the Bible should be read or what style of music is proper in the sanctuary.
When you combine all of these things with hypocrisy and moral compromise as many churches have changed their biblical stances to accommodate the tolerance of an immoral culture, you get an entire generation of people who no longer feel that “Church” is worth their time. The saddest part about the entire thing is that the Church is suppose to be a Light to the world, yet when you look at the very heart of those managing these buildings and ministries, we no longer see any difference between the actions of the Church and the world.
If you leave with nothing else, leave with this: The people of this generation are done playing church. They don’t want religion and care not for the traditions and doctrines of men. This is also a very informed generation. What that means is that you can no longer tell someone to believe a church doctrine just because a holy man created it 500 years ago. For too long we have told people to hold their questions and to just accept what we have been taught. That ideology no longer works in the information age; all it does is invalidate those who are honestly seeking out the Truth.
So what is the answer? Oh, God has one, but most will not be willing to embrace it. It is pretty basic. Right now, the old sheep are in the traditional pens of the church walls while the younger generation has fled those walls to seek God outside of them. The only question we have to ask is: would we be willing to surrender everything that we have created for ourselves in order to shepherd the sheep where they are grazing? This is the most important question that our smaller churches can ask. For at the moment, the goal of our churches is to bring people into the sanctuary; however, the time has come to bring His sanctuary to the people.
Think about this? How would you minister next week if you had no building or denomination to worry about? If there were no bills to be paid, no committee meetings to attend, no service to decorate or church lawn to mow… If the church gave you back your tithe and you were able to bless the people you walked by each and every day, what could you do with it?
I know what you are thinking and I agree. A weekly fellowship of likeminded believes is vital to the Christian faith. I am not suggesting that we get rid of our pastors and we neglect meeting together. What I am revealing is that by taking on the world’s standards of success, we have created prisons for ourselves as we entomb our fellow believers with the heavy yoke of business and “keeping up with the Jones”.
Do you know that most of our struggling churches (right now at this moment) are dealing with power struggles as people fight over what they have invested in? What would happen if some or all of those assets were no longer there to fight over? Would that not take care of the majority of our church’s problems? Don’t get me wrong. The Lord used church buildings effectively for many years, just as He used denominations to help hold people accountable in their beliefs. However, both of these tools have become obsolete as man has taken them over and has adulterated their purposes. When brothers and sisters of Christ are feuding over a physical inheritance (that will fade away and has no real value) while our denominations continue to fall to compromise (by majority vote) as they blaspheme the Name of God by embracing the sinful culture, it is time to bring major reform the Church.
The Spirit of God is moving. There are signs of Life being seen in the wilderness. There are people who are hungry for the Word of God and who seek Christian fellowship. But you will not find these people seeking to go back into a traditional church. What we need to realize is that we need to shift our mindset from getting seekers to come to where we want them to be, to going where these people are and creating sanctuaries with no walls.
How much time does your church have left? How many elder saints can pass away before the doors are locked and the building is sold? Yet, the real question is this: Would you be willing to trade all those days supporting that dying organization to take that same energy and serve the Lord by harvesting and worshiping outside the things we have created for Him/us?
I tell you the Truth. God is calling many pastors to build ministries with minimal assets. And these pastors are seeing fruit as they have taken away many of the reasons people have left the Church. Most of these pastors work full-time jobs so they can have the freedom to teach and shepherd those the Lord brings their way. And we are even beginning to see some traditional churches who are seeing the value of using less to accomplish more. And it are these trailblazers that will provide the examples to many other churches as they downsize from a business/organizational model to a simple fellowship serving in God’s provision.
Now to be clear, a building in itself is not evil, and even as many churches begin to downsize and prioritize flexibility over quality, buildings may still have important roles for various ministries. But the most important trend that can save our small traditional churches is that God would rather have a group of 20 people engaging their communities each week in a garage, then to have 50 people locked up and fighting for control, influence, and power in a building that grows more silent each passing year.
If your ministry is fighting among itself, let me give you some Jesus wisdom… It is OK to let the other guys take over the building. It is OK to let the struggles in the Church go. Blessed are those who can walk away from a Christian heritage that has changed into something Jesus would be ashamed of. And the moment you do, go find a humble pastor who needs you to help seek out and shepherd those in the neighborhoods surrounding your old church. God calls us to be good stewards of our time and our money. I pray that those who are in deep struggle with a building and organization can have the faith to let it go so they can serve God.
The Spirit is moving and the methods of evangelism and fellowship are changing. So, what will we do? Will we continue to hold tightly to the things that are baron and empty, or will we be wiling to seek after the fruit we can see hanging on the nearby branch the Spirit has revealed to us?
As a reformer and minister of the Lord, I am fully willing and able to help any struggling church who would entertain how this could look as they embrace the idea that less is really more in the coming years of effective ministry. As persecution grows and time continues to take home our elder saints, these new models of ministry will bring peace and joy as the constant support of large buildings become even more of a burden for those who are unwilling to embrace change. Blessings…