Christians are discussing the recent news of the loss of numbers in the American church. My personal perspective has also garnered a bit of attention, but let’s boil it down to the basic line: The whole church is not teaching the whole gospel to the whole world. We don’t know what our mission is any more. We’ve let the world turn our heads away from the true grace of God which saves the lost. We’re losing numbers because we’ve lost our mission.
As Adam Faughn tweeted earlier today, “Our Lord didn’t come to make sick people well. He came to make dead people live again.” That truth has direct consequences for his people. We’re not on earth to make people well either, that is, our task is not to improve their physical circumstances. We’re here so people can hear and respond to the gospel and through it be reconciled to God.
• Concern for growth is good, if motivated by proper impulses. God wants growth, of that there’s no doubt. He wants growth because every number is a soul. But he is not interested in numbers for their own sake. Our Lord often dispersed multitudes. When the disciples pleaded with him to come down from the mountain because the crowds were searching for him, he insisted on leaving in order to preach to other cities that had yet to hear the good news.
• The emphasis today is doing for sake of doing. Supposedly, individuals and churches are doing good, but they are using their own definition of what is good. Jesus would probably tell us today—to paraphrase his response to the rich young ruler, “Why do you call this good? None knows what is good, except God alone.” Did not Jesus die for the greatest good, man’s reconciliation to God? And among all the good in the world, will we let temporary good replace in our eyes and efforts what is certainly the highest and best and eternal?
• If we do not embrace the great commission of preaching the gospel, rather than doing temporary good and satisfying physical needs, who will? The Salvation Army? The Red Cross? The Samaritan’s Purse? Amnesty International? The world’s billions of people give to help improve people’s social, political, and physical condition. Let them! If we have the true gospel, why aren’t we pouring our resources into that? Why not? Because we don’t really believe it. There is no other explanation.
• Forthright/GoSpeak is exploring a new prayer initiative. What needs do you feel in your prayer life that we could help with? What Jane Edwards said of intercession is true of all prayer, “Intercessory prayer is not a substitute for action. It is an action for which there is no substitute.” In the meantime, be encouraged by these prayers, here and here.
• I have two new hymns available for congregational or devotional use, here and here. A generic religious site has published them, since the site owners were able to add audio, but they also stuck in instruments. If we work with them again in the future, we’ll reiterate the request for voice only. The sheet music is available in PDF, so you can make use of those. For more spiritual songs, see this link.
• On our trek to fulfill God’s mission we need the prayers and songs, the joining of hands, the cultivation of love in the body of Christ, the united language of God flowing freely. And we need to open the door of opportunity so that others may also share in his fullness.