It’s the word of the day. Most of our congregations are in decline. The projections are that the decline will get faster over time.
But that isn’t a foregone conclusion. God can do whatever he wants whenever he wants. With God, all things are possible. It seems to me that it does help if we cooperate!
Some people give hard words. Others give hopeful words. We don’t want to just be critics. We don’t want to bury our heads in the sand. The truth is reality requires both – hard and hopeful.
If the future is going to be bright…it will come through giving God full control of everything we do. That will only come if we think God is truly at work. If we think God closed shop and left everything to us and the Bible then we might as well do everything by our own strength. But that isn’t what God did. In Jesus’ absence, God sent the Holy Spirit to help us. Like a rescuing a drowning person, the Spirit may have to sucker punch us and drag us to the shore.
What will it take to get our attention? What will it take for us to give up control? What will it take to stop operating out of our own strength? What is the path to renewal and congregational resurrection?
I believe Ezekiel 37 delivers some sobering thoughts that may give us a path to better days. It will be uncomfortable but comfort is what God us in the mess we are in.
It is going to take fasting and prayer. It is going to take emptying ourselves of how we know to do things and starting fresh with the help of the scriptures and the Spirit.
Here is how God brought Israel back from the brink in Ezekiel 37 and I will give you a hint – it is going to require the work of the Holy Spirit if we are going to reverse the trend.
This is an invitation to fasting and prayer for the future. We pray more for the sick than we do for the future of our congregations! We can do better.
Last, here are two practical podcasts we recently did on church renewal with Neil Reynolds that I believe you will find helpful.
My heart is hopeful about the future, knowing the path will be hard in many respects. I hope yours is too!