How long will the American church sit by and ignore the numbers? Once again the Pew Research Forum has laid out significant research to back up the lack of growth that the American church is experiencing. Yet, well-respected teachers and preachers blatantly disregard this evidence. A new age of church growth is before us. To go forward, we need to first go back and reclaim a few essential parts of our identity. Here is a list of ways that we can find our way back.
- Love people: This concept sounds simple; yet, many of our churches are intensely focused on kissing the ring of many political issues. I am not saying that we avoid preaching and believing on what we think is sin; however, our main focus should be on what Jesus calls the greatest commandment, to love people at any level. Recently, the famed author Anne Lamont expressed that the main reason she converted to Christianity was because the church that she walked into as a drug addict just loved and accepted her.
- Diversity: The Pew Research Forum has made it clear that multi-ethnic community is the new wave for many of our churches. Many denominations are still stuck in the civil rights era. If we are led by one dominant race, who consistently avoids tackling the issue, we will never reach a diverse church culture. Mary Demayaz, an author who tackles the issue of cultural diversity, stated that on the race issues of our day the American church is predominately silent. We cannot afford to be silent on this issue. Due to this call to action, we have to being transparent with ourselves and each other about race issues. This transparency will lead to conversations based on understanding and empathy, not assumptions.
- Millennial: Millennials are the largest audience that our country has ever seen; yet, many of our churches still operate as though they don’t exist. In fact, many churches we are still operating under a baby-boomer mind set. To change the course of many of our churches, we need to move beyond the leadership of yesterday, and embrace the leadership of today by put millennials in charge. Jesus makes it very clear that the church is not about one person or agenda. It’s much bigger than that.
- Holy Spirit: I am a big fan of cookies; however, I am not a big fan of cookie-cutter ministries. The research has spoken for itself; we live in a diverse and changing era that needs churches of many different types and programing. What if we were led by the spirit and not the latest trend? Just maybe the Spirit would move in a way that we would see the Pew Research numbers change.
Our culture is looking for authenticity, not cookie-cutter programing. We have been acting as if one model fits all churches. We need an old-fashion return to the Holy Spirit. In a day and age of increased religious persecution, he is the only one who can guide and shape our path. Scripture makes it very clear that he is our comforter and director. According to the Pew Research, in this new age of Christianity we need both to find ourselves.