I do not wish to be controversial, disrespectful or alarmist, but I can see the death of the institutional historical denominations. At least this is the trend here in New Zealand. We have a TV programme called ‘Praise Be’ that airs here every Sunday morning. Congregations are filmed singing hymns in the many churches throughout the country. One cannot help but notice that many of the small congregations comprise of ‘grey headed’ females with a smattering of elderly gentlemen. There are no millennials in sight. There are very few under 50 years of age.
I do not have figures for other western countries, but I suspect that, like as in NZ the congregations of the established churches that grew out of the reformation are on their last legs. I suspect the statistics of census taking over the last century of western countries will show a steady decline in church attendance.
I suspect that there are many reasons why the church of today is not appealing to the young. Every generation has tried various programmes to reach out to the young and lost, hence it is not as if the protestant churches were unaware of the need to evangelize. But in todays generation the decline has become, I believe become more stark and obvious. So much so that the when the ‘baby boomer’ generation passes on the church as we have known it, will also pass away.
This is a tragedy filled with sadness that grieves the heart of God to see his church, his family have a form of godliness but no power. Cf 2 Timothy 3:5. The reformation that began some 500 years ago restored the truth of personal salvation and the authority of scriptures but ignored the ‘dunamis’ and authority of the Holy Spirit. Because of this neglect I believe, we are paying the price today, as the established church is running out of steam. To continue the analogy; there is no power in the churches boilers
But I believe God has a plan that from this tragedy for a remnant will arise from the stump of Christs death, as in the return of the captives from Babylon. A ‘new’ church will morph from the death of the denominational churches; people who have been baptized in the spirit and fire, who walk by faith with signs and wonders following them, as was evident in the early church, according to the book of Acts.
This ‘ecclesia’ will be characterized by an intense love of God, death to self, fear of the Lord wrapped up by a desire to please God. Not only will they be in the ‘high ways and byways’ but they will be pulling down the strongholds and sitting at the gates of influence.
Where does this leave us today?
To fall on our knees in travail with the fear of God upon our lips and seek the face of our Father for mercy. It will also be a time of rejoicing as the beginnings of a great harvest will be coming. It will also be a time for each member of Christs body to regain their first love and press deeper into the heart of the Father as the refiner’s fire prepares us.