One does not have to work very hard to get statistics on the condition of the Church in America. They are not very encouraging at all. Just Google or Bing it as I did and heres some of what you will find:
- 1,400 pastors in America leave the ministry monthly. Pastors live on the raw edge of life and find themselves in a constant whirlwind of stressful events. Many who leave feel that the church they served expected the pastor to produce an increase in finances and membership without changing the comfortable routines of their members. London and Wiseman in their book, Pastors at Greater Risk, note: The problem is so large that church leader fear not enough battle-ready soldiers will be available to impact the remainder of this decade No one can guess what the defection rate will be when the fight becomes more fierce, as it will. And the battle fatigue of those who remain will thwart their productivity. Pastoral AWOL is definitely on the increase.
- Less than 20% of churches recognize or appreciated their pastor in some way annually. Could this possibly be true? No birthday or anniversary gifts? Nothing special at Christmas? No observance of an October Pastor Appreciation Sunday? Say it aint so! Faithful men and women of God are worthy of double honor for the work they do for God.
- Only 15% of churches in the USA are growing and just less than 5% of those are growing by conversion growth. I sure hope Leonard Sweet is wrong. He writes, For the most part, the Fathers business has been replaced by the corporate business of church, patterned after the business world itself. We have lost our passion for the winds of the Spirit and become mesmerized by the machinery of success and propellers of prosperity. Sweet quotes Keith Meyer from Whole Life Transformation : How did (we) get to the place where (we are) so off-task, caring more about (our) churchs organizational extension and survival and measuring success in business termsattendance, buildings and cashrather than in becoming and making mature (Christlike) disciples of Jesus? How did church become more of a business organization for consumers of religious goods and services than a training ground of followers of Jesus? Im getting it: Jesus has one ship: discipleship. All the disciples are in the same boat. And Jesus is the captain, the one and only Leader.
- 10,000 churches in America disappeared in a five-year period. Our boat is taking on water and many are frantically bailing because the sump pump is broken. Ive seen other predictions: The rate of church closures is alarming, writes Doug Small. He predicts, A third of Americas churches will close their doors within the next decade. 70% of professed Christians are in a survival mode, according to Lyle Schaller (a church analyst). Only 3% to 5% are in a kingdom-building mode. Could it be because 48% who those attending are increasingly disappointed with their worship experience? Heres what they call their worship experience: outdated, just a performance, boring, disappointing, embarrassing. Perhaps this accounts for next statistic
- The number of people in America that Do Not attend church has doubled in the past 15 years. Here are some corollary statistics to this one: No more than 38% of the population attends church at all and thats in the Bible Belt. The next highest is the Midwest at 25%, the West at 21%, and Northeast at 17%. Though the Bible Belt still boasts the highest percentage of church attendees, many of those churches are filled with legalism or extreme liberalism. 1 of 4 church attendees are considered church hoppers.
The question some of us are beginning to ask is, Have we gone too far in the American church? Can we turn back or will our churchs lampstand be removed as occurred to the Ephesian church in Revelation 2? Doug Small has lamented that America is like a ship taking on water; it is listing. It is guilty of the sins of other nations. It has lost the power of salt and light. Could America cease to be tolerant of the very faith its founders came here to practiceChristianity? Edwin W. Lutzer, pastor of Moody Church, asks, How can we keep society from decay if we are guilty of the same sins? There are signs of hope everywhere, but really, only where the glory of the Lord is returning to our churches. Its happening where there is repentance, confession, and radical obedience. American churches will change when we change our churches. Thats why Im asking, Whats it like at your church? Are you willing to pray the price to see a Holy Spirit awakening at your church?
Dr. David F. Nixon
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