This is no time to give up

Good morning everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Steadfast and Immovable”
Our Bible verse for today: “But know this: Hard times will come in the last days.” 2 Timothy 3:1 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “This is no time to give up”
These days I find myself reading a lot of books, magazine articles, blog posts, and news items regarding the dire state of the church in America today. Denominational leaders, seminary professors, researchers, writers, and everyday pastors are all sounding the alarm that the church in our nation is struggling and withering.
Much of what is written about that sad situation is directed at pastors, because pastors are the frontline communicators to reach God’s people in the churches. And so, we read report after report and article after article about the continuing decline of church attendance in America, along with the associated diminishing influence of the churches in our communities. Although research results vary, most reports indicate that only 24% of people regularly attend religious services of any kind. And the definition of “regular church attender” has been cut in half by the researchers who determine those definitions. A “regular” attender used to mean someone who attends church 3-4 times per month on the average. Not anymore. Now “regular” is 1-2 times per month. That means that three out of four Americans do not attend church even once or twice a month.
The result is that the church in the USA is struggling and withering. And, worse, pastors are giving up and leaving the ministry. One of the books I’m reading this month was written specifically to address that major problem. It is “The Resilient Pastor: Leading Your Church in a Rapidly Changing World” by Glenn Packiam. Glenn is a pastor as well as a researcher for the Barna Research Group. He reports that in 2021, twenty-nine percent (almost one third) of all pastors were considering leaving the ministry. (Can you imagine the devastating impact if a third of all the pastors in our country suddenly left the ministry? My goodness!)
The purpose of this particular book is first of all, to inform pastors regarding the full scope of the challenge facing the church, but also, and importantly, to equip pastors to better deal with it, and even more important, to encourage them to stick with it.

To set that tone, in the forward to the book, David Kinnaman, the President of the Barna Research Group, wrote, “The church is worth our godly agitation, ambition, and urgent prayer and action. Resilient leaders, in other words, must be filled with realism about the actual, tangible, brutal reality of leading the church and forming people into Jesus’ image … In addition to realism, resilient pastors must be anchored to hope. Hope in the Lord’s work in the world. Hope in a God who knows us and hears us. Hope in the reality of a resurrected Jesus. Hope that all this work and effort and toil really does amount to something both here and now and in eternity.”
I write this devotional first, for all my pastor friends out there. Be encouraged. What you do matters. Don’t give up! But second, I write it for all the church members so you can know that your pastor is engaged in a fight for your church. He needs your help and he needs your prayers. I encourage church members to get a copy of that book and read it so you will better understand the battle that is being waged for the church in America today, and perhaps you will find a larger role in that battle for yourself.
We’ll continue thinking about this tomorrow. At that time, I’ll have a word for church members – a word of hope and encouragement. All is not lost and the church in America is not defeated. This is no time to give up. Our communities need strong churches. It’s time for all of us to be steadfast and immovable!  
God bless,
Pastor Jim
Copyright © 2022 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

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