Is Your Church Thriving, Surviving, or Dying?

comback church

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your church involvement? What would be your score 5 years ago? How different are your answers to these two questions? Scrappy Church: God’s Not Done Yet (Rainer, 2018) discusses the status of today’s declining churches and provides a working model for those who choose to fight for a comeback. The stories from pastors, church leadership, and membership are vulnerable and explain the “why” behind church death based on choices and their unintended consequences.

I agree with the mentioned reasons for a church’s decline and how to best address each; however, the book leaves out an important factor influencing engagement. As the saying goes: times, they are a changing! Part of a church’s decline in attendance may have little to do with the church, but the priority church has in the over-scheduled, over-stressed average American family’s life. Even if a church hits on all cylinders in outward deluge, welcoming, and back door closure, it’s hard to overcome a family’s pressure on time management with the options that technology provides.

Years ago, if you wanted to attend a service not inside brick and mortar, you only had a few TV evangelism options such Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, Oral Roberts, Jerry Falwell, and Jimmy Bakker. Technology now allows us to stream a live service of our favorite church or pastor from our iPhone or watch a video on our computer at our convenience. You could call it: church service on demand in the comfort of our own home.

I too have succumbed to watching Jeremy Foster preach on a Sunday morning in my bathrobe while eating bacon and eggs. Afterwards, I dress and get to work, saving myself a couple hours of commuting. Of course, I miss the worship music vibrating through my body and meeting up with friends. I can schedule coffee and conversation later when it’s more convenient. What about spreading the Gospel? Our church outreach includes inviting people to Saturday dinner on occasion and followed by a church service at Hope City. I’m not justifying my choices but explaining how I get comfortable with my decision.

I believe churches that will thrive will be those that break the mold on traditional church. Church members want intimacy with flexibility, which I believe will be difficult for most churches to achieve based on the traditional upbringing in how church is done. Do you wonder what church will look like 10 years from now.

Reference

Rainer, T. (2018). Scrappy Church: God’s Not Done Yet. B&H Publishing: Nashville, TN


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, premarital/marriage, finances, and ministry. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

What’s Your Relationship with the Spirits …and Not the Alcoholic Types?

I find many of today’s Christian denominations avoid discussion or minimize the existence of the spiritual realm that operates in and around all human lives. The Bible tells us that Satan still has dominion of this earthly world. “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News…” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Enemies will always have the advantage when they are denied or disguised. I’d rather know there’s a real devil to battle than be uninformed or ill-equipped to fight.

spiritual realm

Why is the church not teaching Christians about the spiritual realm, preparing them for battle, and reminding them of their power? Are they afraid of scaring Christians?  Are pastors afraid that people will distance themselves from Christianity if they preach on the spiritual realm and the daily workings of demons and angels? Are we that fragile? I believe teaching on the spiritual realm provides answers and brings clarity to events that the three-dimensional world cannot explain well.

Just before Jesus died on the cross, He said, “It is finished,” meaning the human lamb was sacrificed to bring new life for all who were once dead in sin and made alive in Christ. The power of darkness was now defeated. Christ’s death was the defeat of the power of Satan—his only weapon was people’s unforgiven sin.

If we don’t acknowledge or leverage the power of Jesus, we are giving our power away to Satan. When I ask Christians whether they believe the Bible represents God’s words and truth, they answer, “Yes.” When I ask whether they believe in the spiritual realm, too many look at me with a quizzical look and answer, “I’m not sure.”

The Bible tells story after story about Satan and his demons including when the Devil tempted Jesus in the dessert (Mark 1: 12-13) and Jesus casting demons out of the man into a herd of pigs (Matthew 8: 28-34). The world hasn’t changed in these thousands of years—it’s still governed by Satan and his minions.

What’s so scary about acknowledging the spiritual realm surrounds us? I know Christians who’ve seen Satan, seen demons attached to people, and gazed at wings of angels. As a child without formal Christian instruction, I didn’t have an explanation for the little demons I occasionally saw on the landing outside my bedroom door. I didn’t accept Jesus based on logical argument and exposure to the Scriptures. I came to know Jesus by unknowingly tapping into the spiritual realm. What I experienced was so real, an engineering mind couldn’t deny its existence.

When Jesus died on the cross, He gifted his power and a companion [The Holy Spirit] to anyone who chose to believe, so they would be equipped for both earthly and spiritual warfare. We honor this power when we understand the breadth and intensity of the battlefield. I understand that for those who grew up in the traditional church, acknowledging or talking about the spiritual realm may be uncomfortable. Have you had nagging thoughts that quietly whisper to you that maybe the spiritual realm really does exist, because it explains what you are feeling, hearing, seeing, or smelling? Some may dismiss it as intuition, but I prefer to call it tapping into your sixth sense.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, premarital/marriage, finances, and ministry. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com