via: Relevant Magazine – Matt Erickson
The stories and statistics may be dire at times, but here’s why there’s hope for the Church yet.
In 2011 the largest denomination in the United States, the Southern Baptist Convention, announced the results of a survey showing a significant decline in baptisms and church membership. Ed Stetzer, a missioligist and researcher with Lifeway Research, commented at the time: “This is not a blip. This is a trend. And the trend is one of decline.”
In the very same year, across the Atlantic, a report on the Church of England highlighted the challenges it was facing: aging congregations, faltering clergy recruitment and waning attendance. While church leaders used words like “crisis” and “time bomb,” the report predicted the church would likely be extinct within 20 years.
More recently, the Pew Research Center released a study on the state of religion in the United States entitled “‘Nones’ on the Rise.” The study brings into focus the increasing growth rate of those who do not identify with any religion at all. Nearly one-fifth of the U.S. adult population—and one-third of those under the age of 30—identify in this way; an increase from 15 percent just 5 years earlier.
For many people, these are signs that the church is, if not already dead, steadily moving toward the grave. And many have been calling for followers of Jesus to return to the original vision for our faith.
I have lived within the inner workings of the church for the past 15 years, and I will be one the first to agree with many who point out that the Church is full of brokenness. But I’m not ready to sound the death toll for the Church. Here’s a story to tell you why.
Jesus loves the Church
From all the recent discouraging commentary on the Church, you might wonder if Jesus actually hates today’s Church. A cursory look at the Scripture will bring us back to our senses. In one of Paul’s most moving passages about husband and wife relationships, he intertwines a description of the relationship between Christ and the church
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