We didn’t start the fire…

22 Mar

Over the next few days I am going to be blogging through a paper that I m currently writing for our church.  We are moving into a new territory as far as a model for doing church is concerned, and I want to share it with everyone here as I work my way through it.  I would really love to get some feed back from readers as you interact with the material.  Enjoy.

The first section sets the stage for the need for change because of the current state of the church today.

“For the past seventeen centuries, church has been an event to attend.  Most Christians go to a special place at a special time to watch special people perform.  Once or twice a week, they sing a few sons, listen to a monologue, put money in the offering plate, and go home.”

We are increasingly living in a non-Christian country, and world for that matter.  It would be incorrect to make the statement that nothing is wrong with the Christian Church today.  It is evident that people are leaving the church in large numbers each year.  Dr. Richard J. Krejcir of the Schaeffer Institute reports these statistics:

· Every year more than 4000 churches close their doors compared to just over 1000 new church starts!

· There were about 4,500 new churches started between 1990 and 2000, with a twenty year average of nearly 1000 a year.

· Every year, 2.7 million church members fall into inactivity. This translates into the realization that people are leaving the church. From our research, we have found that they are leaving as hurting and wounded victims—of some kind of abuse, disillusionment, or just plain neglect!

· From 1990 to 2000, the combined membership of all Protestant denominations in the USA declined by almost 5 million members (9.5 percent), while the US population increased by 24 million (11 percent).

· At the turn of the last century (1900), there was a ratio of 27 churches per 10,000 people, as compared to the close of this century (2000) where we have 11 churches per 10,000 people in America! What has happened?

· The United States now ranks third (3rd) following China and India in the number of people who are not professing Christians; in other words, the U.S. is becoming an ever increasing “un-reached people group.”

· Half of all churches in the US did not add any new members to their ranks in the last two years.

 

These are scary facts to read in light of the fact that the church is called to “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

How are we to do that if we are having an ever decreasing impact on the world in which we live and do ministry?  The fact is that the church has a problem on its hands that must be addressed in order to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.

Much of the church growth today is de-churched people that are drawn by attractional ministry, not truly unchurched people. How do we reach those people who don’t even go to church? In a day and age when the church is continuing to decline in America in attendance, membership, and influence, how do we reach people who are disenfranchised, indifferent, antagonistic, or uninformed to church?  These are questions that we must answer in order to have a meaningful impact on the community in which we live.  These questions take on even more importance when we take into consideration that fact that it is estimated that there will be a 40% increase in the population of the city of Atlanta alone in the next 20 years.  The population of the entire Atlanta metropolitan area is estimated to grow by 2.3 million people in that same timespan.

The church must step up to the plate and face this challenge head on.  However, the church cannot attack it the same way it has for the past fifty years.  These must be a distinct and sudden paradigm shift in order to fulfill the Great Commission in this environment.

 

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