Why is the church today in decline?

Why is the church today in decline in this country?  I believe at least part of the root cause is that believers are no longer dependent on the Holy Spirit.  I was reading an article last week discussing a recent seminary graduate who had more than $100,000 of debt but could not find a full-time ministry position.  Instead, he was working a couple of part-time jobs and a volunteer job to fulfill his calling.  Consequently, he is unable to pay off his seminary debt.  According to the article, this graduate is not alone in his difficulties.  Church attendance and giving over the last several years are in decline.  In fact, the giving decline is outpacing the attendance decline and forcing many congregations to reduce spending and staffing. 

Research conducted by the Barna Group in 2007 and 2008 indicates that young people are leaving the church in masses because they do not sense a genuine belief in many of the church members.  These young people love Jesus; they just don’t like the church.  Churches have become so focused on the presentation, music, and production of their “worship” services that they have programmed the Holy Spirit out of the service.   The young people want to be connected to something that is more than just a show; they want to be connected to Jesus and through that connection to make a difference in other people’s lives.

In Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on Peter and he boldly proclaimed Jesus to the Jewish people.  He concluded his message by saying in Acts 2:36, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
Acts 2: 37-41 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day

Wow.  The people were cut to their hearts and asked, “What should be do?”  Peter told them to first repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins.  After recognizing their need for a savior and confessing that need, they were to repent and be baptized in Jesus name for forgiveness of sins.  Then Peter promised them that they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling power of God that would give them the power to teach boldly, to walk faithfully, and to live abundantly and joyfully even in adversity.   Peter added that the promise was for them and their children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord will call.  They could receive salvation from Jesus and by living an example of faith in Jesus, their children would come to know the power of the savior and turn to him for healing.  “And for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord will call” – that’s us.  We are the recipients of that precious promise.  

My prayer for this church, this body of believers, is that we listen to the Holy Spirit, we walk with the Spirit, we live life through the spirit and in doing so we will be empowered to be witnesses to the world of the love and grace given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ.  We will boldly proclaim Jesus to a lost and dying world and will extend his love and grace as we go.

In Him,
Pastor Boyd

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