The following observations are based upon my limited experience and knowledge. I certainly do not consider myself as some arbitrator of all things Church of Christ. There are experts among us who study church growth and trends within our fellowship who may or may not support my concerns. I am just writing as one preacher who has been hanging around now for a few years.
I love the Church of Christ. I have lived my entire adult life and spent all of my preaching career being blessed to be a part of this wonderful fellowship. I have always and still continue to find many good things about us. But I am also concerned.
Practically all of the congregations of the Churches of Christ with which I am familiar (and admittedly this is not that large of a sampling and it basically limited to one general geographic part of our country) are now smaller than they once were- some dramatically so- and very few within these churches seem alarmed. This concerns me.
I see the church growing older before my eyes. I love our senior saints and praise God for their faithfulness, but I lament the fact that few among us seem to possess vision to reach the younger generations. Even our own kids are leaving us. I am concerned.
Our fellowship seems very fractured. For a movement born of unity we are failing miserably in maintaining those ideals now. In my community there are well over thirty bodies of believers who identify themselves as a “Church of Christ”, but there is precious little fellowship among us. This is concerning to me.
Our leadership seems distracted. Far too many issues crowd the tables of our church leaders. Entirely too many non-spiritual concerns get in the way of shepherding. Evangelism is on very few agendas. Maintaining status quo seems to rule the day. Where are the visionaries among Church of Christ leadership willing to take faith risks? Where are those who- in faith- are seeing beyond themselves to reach the lost and plan for the needs of future generations? Where are the prayer warriors on bended knee seeking God’s power and guidance? I am concerned by these questions.
Our Sunday morning worship assembly has taken on an entirely disproportionate importance with our fellowship. Worship wars rage about numerous issues connected to worship style. For some- being faithful means Sunday morning done in accordance to their preferences. For others their only connection to a Church of Christ is Sunday morning worship attendance. I think- from God’s perspective- that the rest of the week counts too. Again, this is concerning.
Before I am to be accused of being a pessimist or a naysayer please hear me out. I have full confidence in the power of God and in the power of the message of the cross. We have a wonderful tradition within Churches of Christ. We have people who love God and honor his Word. And I do know of Churches of Christ who are visionary, evangelistic and growing by preaching and living the message of the cross and becoming involved in their communities daily.
But for the most part I do not see this and I am concerned and I wonder if anyone else is too. The numbers tell the tale and according to our leading church growth experts we are losing ground to our population rapidly. So where is the urgency? Where is the alarm? What will it take for us to wake up?
These are my concerns.
Are they valid?