Negatives We Can’t Ignore

By Mark A. Taylor

A quick skim of the newspaper on a Friday in September reminds me of other correspondence I had seen earlier in the week.

• A Wall Street Journal report quotes the Pope who warned against increasing apathy toward religion in Germany. “We are witnessing a growing indifference to religion in society,” he said in Berlin.

• A column appearing a few pages later chronicles and decries efforts of the Obama administration to promote sermonizing by rabbis on such topics as the President’s jobs bill, the impact of budget cuts on the poor, and the country’s need for “raising revenue,” that is, increasing taxes. “The mandate of religious leaders is to convey to their communities spiritual encouragement and the wisdom of the ages,” wrote Tevi Troy, a former White House Jewish liaison. “For the other stuff, there’s cable news.”

• An e-mail earlier that morning came from an Ohio Christian church leader declining my request to write about the state of the church in America. He said he’s pretty sure people don’t want to read his opinion. “The church will continue to decline in the U.S.,” he wrote. “More small, traditional churches will be closing. The megachurch will continue successfully until it wakes up and realizes we’re not producing disciples but consumers.”

• And then I thought about a Web conference I had attended just the day before. Spokesmen for Faith Communities Today (FACT) highlighted their latest research study, “A Decade of Change in American Congregations: 2000 to 2010.” They noted some encouraging trends (for example: increases in innovative worship, adoption of new technologies, and growing outreach to racial/ethnic congregations). But these were overshadowed by the negatives: financial stress, high levels of conflict, aging memberships, declining attendance, and an across-the-board decrease in spiritual vitality reported by leaders from all kinds of U.S. churches.*

You and I know more than one congregation not described by this litany of losses. Their preachers have not given their pulpits to politics. They’re in no danger of closing their doors. Their members are not indifferent about faith.

But we dare not discount which way the wind is blowing in our country. Observers everywhere have noticed the eroding influence of the church on our society.

Sometimes the church says this is society’s fault. But, increasingly these days, church leaders themselves are admitting they can no longer ignore how much of the world is ignoring the church, the church’s programs, and ultimately, the church’s Lord.

________

*See FaithCommunitiesToday.org for details and much more information.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Kathy E. Comp
    November 9, 2011 at 11:57 am

    A common theme among the postmoderns I know is:
    “I like God and Jesus, but who needs church? The church is full of judgmental hypocrites!”
    How to answer these accusations?

  2. C.V.Joseph
    November 11, 2011 at 11:26 am

    This is a very fact that negatives have many impacts in our life. A word of negative will take many influence in our way of progress. The Bible says in Proverb 18:21″The tongue has the power of life and death. and those who love it will eat its fruit” and in proverbs 13:2,3 says “From the fruit of lips people enjoy good things, but the unfaithful have an appetite for violence. Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”
    There are many words in the Bible giving support to this. So keep our tongue and use it to speak positive things only. God said to Abraham that “I will bless them who bless you” . Bless those who curse you. Do not allow fear to come into your mind. Job says in Job:3 :25,26 that “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil”. See what happened to Job. He is saying that the things happens to him is what he feared. So be brave and say only positives. God will surely bless you.

  3. November 11, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Just some food for thot here. Perhaps one major reason the world at large is ignoring the church is because the world cannot see any difference in them and the church. In short, the body of Christ has become so polluted with worldliness having crept in, people can’t see Christ in our daily lives anymore. Is there not something seriously wrong with this picture?

    Jesus himself says: “But iI, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself” [John 12:32]. So, let’s ask ourselves, how am I lifting up Jesus in my life today? Did I start my morning out with a quiet time with God? Sure, as disciples we are not perfect, but God does like to see humility, perseverance and consistency in our lives on a daily basis [Luke 9:23]. Indeed there are numerous other Scriptures that reinforce tihs fact . . . Deuteronomy 6:5/ Leviticus 19:18b/ Luke 11:28/ Ephesians 6:10-18/ Philippians 1:9-11/ Hebrews 12:10-11/ 2 Peter 1:3-8 . . . to name a few.

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