There are many voices today, speaking into the hearts of pastors about what they perceive as the Church’s greatest need.
- How to increase your numbers
- How to multiply campuses
- How to turn the pastor into a CEO
- How to lead for growth
- How to recruit volunteers
- How to market your brand
Seems to me it’s all like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Truth is the Titanic is not doing all that well, in spite of the enormous size of megachurches that can be found in most large cities. The last 20 years of George Barna’s research indicates that there is now not a statistically significant difference between the people inside our churches and the general population when it comes to what they believe or how they act.
That is an alarming reality and it won’t be changed by better marketing, social media following, or the pastor becoming a better CEO.
I just finished reading Alan Kreider’s The Patient Ferment of the Church. Alan has researched the first two hundred years of the Church’s history, looking for contributing factors for their phenomenal growth in the hardest of times. His conclusion is that, absent any formalized evangelism strategies, or even treatises on the need to evangelize, the church grew because of the radical transformation in the lives of the people. There was such a stark difference between the people in the Church and those in the world, that the world came to them asking, “What happened to you? How can I get some of that?”
Very few people in our world are asking that question.
In fact, most of our evangelism strategies are trying to answer questions no one in the world is asking.
So, after all that “encouraging news,” is there any hope for the Church?
As our world sinks deeper and deeper into dysfunction and hopelessness, the answer is for the people in our churches to start looking and acting more like Jesus… more like the people of the Kingdom that Jesus described in His Sermon on the Mount.
That kind of righteous living will only happen when the people in our churches have a striking encounter with God in their lives… the kind that grips our hearts and transforms our attitudes and character. It’s what Jonathan Edwards called “transformed affections,” which was the fruit of the First Great Awakening.
And when you examine church history, the only way that kind of spiritual awakening happens in the Church is when someone or a handful of someone’s develop a holy dissatisfaction with status quo and start a protracted ministry of prayer… not prayer as polite seasoning on our lives, meals or Sunday services. Rather, the desperate prayer of a desperate people, who recognize the depth of our need and are convinced that only God can visit us, transform us by His power, and change the direction of the ship that is currently heading for a hidden iceberg ahead.
We need that kind of faith-filled, won’t-be-denied praying, put back in our lives, our families and in the public ministry of our churches. The people will not pray until prayer becomes the priority of the Church again.
Let’s put prayer back in the Church, and believe God for the revival in the Church that so many are talking about today.