|ood morning everyone,|
Our theme for this month: “Personal Responsibility”
Our Bible verse for today: “But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” Revelation 2:4-5 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Churches are struggling”
In chapters two and three of the book of Revelation there are seven churches mentioned. Jesus had a special message for each of them – tailored to their particular set of circumstances. These were real churches which existed in that day, but each was also intended to represent a problem or situation which would exist in multitudes of churches down through the ages. Therefore, the lesson taught regarding each of those seven churches was not just for that particular church, but for all churches like them which would ever exist. And of course, since churches are made up of people, the lessons have to apply to us as individuals. Any church will only be whatever the people of that church make it.
If you read the full passage about the church in Ephesus (2:1-7) you realize their problem was that they were a mere shadow of what they had once been. Jesus said that the reason was because their love for the Lord and for the work of the church had cooled. They had lost much of the love and passion they had once had, and as a result, they were something less than what they had been. The church in Laodicea (3:14-22) had a similar problem. Jesus described them as being lukewarm.
That’s also the situation in many churches today. The Church in the USA has been in decline for decades, but especially so now in the pandemic era. During the pandemic large numbers of active church-goers have drifted away from church, and many haven’t come back. Others started watching church services online and decided they liked that better. Others have gotten in the habit of only infrequent attendance. As a result, many churches today are struggling with lower attendance. Most are at the 50-70% level compared to pre-pandemic numbers.
This is a big problem because diminished numbers result in not only lower attendance, but also in scaled-back ministry activities – there are simply fewer workers to help. This limits the church’s influence in their communities. Diminished numbers also mean that those who are there have to do more, and work harder, to cover for those who are not there. This will eventually lead to burnout among leaders and church members. Diminished numbers are also discouraging, and all of it adds to the perception that the church isn’t as effective as it once was. That hurts morale and makes it harder to generate enthusiasm.
As was already noted, the church is made up of individuals, and any church will only be what the people of the church make it. That makes this a matter of personal responsibility. Faithful attendance and full participation in the life of your church is an important part of how we practice our faith, and right now, most churches are struggling because church-goers are being less faithful than before.
If we want our churches to be healthy and vibrant, we as members have to do the things necessary for them to be healthy and vibrant. That begins with just showing up. Granted, nobody can be there all the time. Work, sickness, family obligations, and vacations sometimes take us away. Some people, such as elderly shut-ins and others who live geographically distant from the church, rely on the online broadcast. But all of us need to do everything we can to be present as often as we can. The church in America is in trouble. Too many of us are simply not showing up.
Today is Friday. Sunday is coming. I encourage you to attend the worship service at your church this week. The fact is that your church needs you to be there – now more than ever.
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