The church is falling; the church is falling! Run! Don’t get hit by the bricks crashing down from the old sanctuary! Hurry, run quickly to the new, hip church in town and don’t look back! If you do you will turn into a pillar of yellowed paper made from the pages of old KJV pew Bibles!
Maybe it is because I am getting older. Maybe it is because it all starts to sound the same after a while. But I have had enough of being told about how my church is irrelevant, uncool, too old school, and ready for the scrapheap.
The volume of material out there that exists to remind me how totally un-with-it my church is seems limitless.
I suspect that you know what I am talking about.
Common among the do-or-die directives is how we must change our worship; change our name; change our leadership; change our image; change our culture; change our language. We must become missional; we must be emergent; we must become cool.
Bricks are falling all around us and we do not even realize it! Wake up church before it is too late!
To be sure, I am well aware of all of the stats reported from various sources that do clearly indicate a decline in church membership and an increasing lack of interest in organized religion in an American culture that no longer values churches as it once did. I am well acquainted with the challenges all of this creates within a local church setting.
I also know about newer growing churches—megachurches that have that cool factor; with hip preachers and multiple campuses. Praise God for them! I rejoice that they exist and are effective in their outreach. Jesus is being preached and glorified through them to a vast amount of people
But we cannot all be them. What about all the churches who are not located in major metropolitan areas? What about the majority of us who worship, serve, raise our kids, marry and bury folks in the old, definitely unhip churches that remain all over the land? Should we just go ahead and shut our doors?
Lost in all of the heavy weight of the negative numbers and glorification of the latest church-of-what-is-happening-now is the value of the old church house on the corner—existing to serve its community and members. They may not be full of the most desired demographic. They may not have their curriculum based on the latest best-seller by the hottest Christian writer. They may still sing some songs from the 20th (or even- heaven help us- from the 19th century). They may not project everything on multiple screens; they probably will not have a praise team; And yes, they probably have a brick or two that could use some fresh mortar (and some within their leadership who could use a fresh idea).
But they are still God’s people. They are still his church. They are still striving to make a difference. They are still of much value in the kingdom of God.
Years ago while in college one of my professors took our class on a field trip to a small country church next to a cemetery. The church building itself was unattractive, cramped, and in some disrepair. Our professor triumphantly proclaimed that the cemetery was more alive than that old, pitiful, tiny church- and predicted their quick demise. I became and remain acquainted with this church. It not only still exists, but in the years since our visit has blessed hundreds of people in the name of Jesus. It remains small and totally uncool, but definitely alive and valuable to its community.
From a biblical perspective I get the idea that Jesus views his church quite differently than us. I think he is more interested in finding faith when he comes (Luke 18:8) than finding flash.
Please do not misunderstand. Because there is flash does not mean the absence of faith. I stand in awe at what is being done in big ways by big churches for Christ. I celebrate their celebrity- again because Jesus is preached and numerous lives are changed.
But the absence of flash does not also mean the absence of faith. I also celebrate all of the smaller churches and the smaller ways they are expanding God’s kingdom. They too continue to preach Christ and change lives.
They may not be all that hip, but they are all His.
That counts for all kinds of something- falling bricks and all.