Does Church Have A Future? (1)
What can the Christians of the Baptist churches in our land do now in order to help to shape the Baptist churches of the future? How can those Christians in Baptist churches help to shape the future of Christianity in our land?
In writing about the Christians in Baptist churches I am not being parochial or exclusive, for I believe that the situation that our churches are in is similar to that experienced by other churches and denominations across the land. Decline is almost an accepted part of church life, and it seems that morale declines along with the numbers.
I want to make some practical suggestions for the way ahead; suggestions that I believe will help to lift church out of the depression that seems to pervade it so extensively at this time. Why does God not appear to be at work in our land? He is quite clearly at work in other countries where Christianity is growing rapidly.
I will consider how our love for God impacts every area of our lives, of which the visible church is but a part. I will address the issue of loving God with all that we are and have, and I will highlight how I believe that the loss of this whole love has damaged the credibility of Christianity in our land today.
The compartmentalisation of life into specific and separate areas is an enemy of a whole love for God, and it is an enemy of the church that is very common. Ministers and their sermons are often seen as irrelevant to modern life, and belonging to a by-gone era that now exists only inside the churches that still appear to be living in a previous century, or two.
I will consider what I believe to be the urgent need to reshape discipleship and Christian education so that people engage their lives with their faith and together work through the difficult issues that they frequently face in today’s world. I will call for a holistic love for God and for his church and world, which includes every area of life and all of the creation.
This is a love that begins from the point that everything and everyone is included, and that a big vision is needed to fully engage with God and our world. The Christian faith calls to everyone to come and be a part of the church, and a holistic faith in Christ does not begin from the viewpoint of the excluded, but from the invitation to all who will come to receive from God, and to receive God himself.
I will also look at leadership – one of the key areas of church life – and consider how the kind of leadership that we have in our churches and denominations is critical. not only for survival in the future but also for prospering in the future.
This discussion will also involve the question of what church actually is, and the relationship between essence and actions. I will consider the context and relevance of church growth, the Missio Dei, authority, and the central role of godly character and integrity in the life of the leader.
In my conclusion I will make my closing remarks and state my hope for the church of today as it looks towards tomorrow; that it might have the kind of positive future that has been doubted and dismissed by many people who think that Christianity is in terminal decline in the United Kingdom. The epitaph may be written and the tombstone in position, but the body is still breathing! God’s love cannot, and will not, die; and it is with the nature of loving God that we begin.