Today’s readings: (click on links)
Just a Generation Away
Judges 2:19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
I've heard some people say that we are just one generation away from the end of Christianity. I really don’t believe that, however I do understand the sentiment.
Every church has the responsibility of passing on the faith to the next generation. If any congregation wants to survive, it needs to take this seriously. For instance, during this year, 4000 new churches will open; however, 7,000 churches will close. There are many reasons which cause church closings, but amongst the most common is the reluctance or inability of an older generation passing on the faith to an upcoming one.
One of the saddest closures that I ever experienced in Tennessee occurred when an older white and wealthy congregation closed its doors. The reason? The community where the church resided was now full of immigrants, but instead of handing over the church to a brand new generation of local worshippers, the original members shut down the building and ended its ministry. I believe that was shameful and very unfaithful, but perhaps the present community is a whole lot better and stronger without those kind of ‘Christians’ anyway.
The challenge of continuity that all congregations face depends upon how willing church members are at both inviting and welcoming new people to church. If it’s all left to church staff or ‘someone else,’ then the church will plateau and growth will stagnate. However, if the good folks in the pews take up this challenge and encouragingly invite families and friends, colleagues and neighbors to church, then the congregation has a much greater opportunity of continuing its Christ-given mission.
Questions for personal reflection
When was the last time I invited someone to church? Who could I presently invite?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, the Church belongs to You. You call our congregations into being in order to present a faithful witness of Your Gospel and Kingdom in our communities. Help us to care about being dedicated to You and give us opportunities to invite others to Your church where we serve. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask a question or make a comment about today’s message, please send him an email to email@example.com.
Today’s image is John’s latest chess drawing called “Opposites.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: