27 Nov 2012
Is it a fact that the Church in North America is shrinking? If the Church is shrinking, what might be the direction or capacity that is shrinking? We normally use dimensions of volume or length to evaluate if something is growing or dwindling, but in the case of the Church these may not be the most effective means of measurement.
In our culture we are evermore enamored with numbers. Yet numbers can be exceedingly deceptive. While numbers are often seen in the Bible they seldom indicate some superior position or power. God’s power trumps numbers. Gideon discovered this fact as did the servant of Elisha when in answer to prayer his eyes were opened to see horses and chariots of fire.
Could it be that today we who make up the Church need to have our eyes opened? Do we need to ask God to give us unwrapped eyes and sanctified minds that we might make an accurate assessment and the appropriate attitude adjustments needed to stop the stealth steamroller shrinking the Church?
What are the characteristics of this sordid steamroller that has its sights set on squashing the Church? Well, it is quiet, like sleeping quiet. It moves slowly ever so slowly. It embodies the idea of no extremes. It does not like to go out of its way. It always wants to fit in, especially to the things of this world. Painted on the side in big red letters are the words: DON’T MAKE WAVES. While steadily moving ever forward, outwardly this beast appears to be standing still.
This machine seems to have artificial intelligence that is targeted predominantly toward any activity that seems to be audaciously authentic. Deep heartfelt commitments to Christ are first ridiculed and then rammed and rapidly rolled over.
The Church is diverse. It started in the dell of divine diversity, Hebrews with thousands of years of tradition and a collection of Gentiles with little consistent religious heritage. What brought this diverse and heterogeneous early church together? What means did God provide for unity? From where did they gain their capacity for power? Was it from their superior numbers, or perhaps from highly technical facilities? What was the means that provided for these people to turn their world upside down? It was not superior organization or education. It was the supernatural work of God!
Romans 8:26-27 (AMP)
26 So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance.
27 And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will.
Perhaps one critical difference from our Church to that of the early church is prayer? Not just any kind of prayer but prayer that is in harmony with the will of God, prayer guided and instructed by the Holy Spirit. Could prayer, yearning desperate prayer, stop the shrinking, even begin true spiritual expansion? Could a deep intimacy with the Holy Spirit of God through Jesus make a difference?
Will we continue to sleep while the steamroller rolls on? Or will we begin to pray and seek His face? Will we move from contentment to consecration? Will we pray His will be done and order our lives in line with this prayer? It is really up to us. Their future, our children and our grandchildren, depends on the decisions we make now. Can you feel the steam?