Any discussion about the decline of the church may seem a little melodramatic and even premature, but signs of its decline could not, perhaps, be more obvious. Indeed, any organisation that lays down its principles to let itself be run and dictated to by those outside the organisation is on a very slippery slope to extinction. But then there’s nothing new about that.
In the Old Testament, there is story after story of people rebelling against God and wanting to do things their own way. In the New Testament, there is story after story of the Pharisees and Scribes, wanting to follow their own rules rather than God’s. Is it any wonder, then, that today we have a church that seems more interested in following its traditions and meeting the expectations of others, rather than promoting the Gospel? Yes, some may declare Christ from the pulpit, but how the faith is practiced is another thing altogether.
Now if that sounds a bit harsh, then think about it. Jesus gave his apostles the task of going out and sharing the Gospel of God. That was the principle aim of the church. And yet, the church today, is so tied up with running government programmes and meeting the expectations of the community, that its core values are often lost.
Indeed, rather than promoting the Gospel, the church is involved in conducting weddings and funerals, running private nursing homes and schools, etc. etc. And if that sounds good, then it probably was (past tense). But as church organisations have become more influenced from people outside their structures, there have been serious consequence for the Christian church.
For example, today, there are many church organisations administered (in part) by non-Christians; many are run (in part) by non-Christian employees; and many are funded (in part) by governments. As a consequence, the organisations no longer represent or display true Christian values, or represent Christ in any true way. And that is particularly true, when those who fund such programmes put restrictions on the way the programmes are run (including limiting Christian content).
Furthermore, in order to comply with the expectations and demands of others, opportunities for church growth and evangelism are often lost or compromised.
In many ways, today, the church should be debating whether it wants to be a welfare agency or a community of God, because it can’t be both. It should be deciding whether it wants to uphold its inherited traditions (like the Pharisees) or whether it wants to restore the more biblical view of the church.
Now over the years, the church has created many different organisations and agencies. And there are many organisations which are no longer part of the Christian church. They drifted away and they got cut off. And the current scenario is that the church has got itself so imbedded in society’s values, that it has drifted away from its core values, and has largely cut itself off from its origins.
This, of course, leaves the future of the church in question. Because if it stays this way—and many would uphold that it is still on track—then there will be no church. The church will continue to die a long painful death. And most importantly, it will not reflect well on Jesus or on the original purpose the church. Indeed, the road the church is on, leads to destruction. It also leads to severe judgement by God. But it is not too late to solve the problem. It does, however, need its members to stand up and be counted.
Having said that, however, in the Old Testament, God sent prophets to get the system back on track. In the New Testament, Jesus tried numerous times to get the Pharisees and Scribes to change their ways. In most instances they were unsuccessful. And I suspect people today will be the same.
People like things to stay the same. They forget that over the years things have gradually changed, and not necessarily for the better. So they hold on to what they have now, rather than revert to the original model. And that does not bode well for the church now or for its future.
Posted 31st August 2019
© 2019, Brian A Curtis