True Corrective, but Questions Remain

Matthew 6:10

Your kingdom come,

Matthew 9:37-38

[Jesus] said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Chartres Cathedral Stained Glass Window

Chartres Cathedral Stained Glass Window

In USA Today opinion piece, Ed Stelzer, executive director of LifeWay Research, offers a careful analysis of a recently-released Pew Research survey, saying:

A new Pew Research Center survey found the Christian share of the American population declined almost 8 percentage points from 2007 to 2014. Drawing from this point, many continued their breathless claims that the Christian sky is falling.

He notes, however, that

Rather than predict the impending doom of the church in America, this latest study affirms what many researchers have said before. Christianity isn’t collapsing; it’s being clarified. Churches aren’t emptying; rather, those who were Christian in name only are now categorically identifying their lack of Christian conviction and engagement.

The editorial is worth the read. Ed Stelzer is one of the bright lights on the Christian horizon of church research and assessment. And even though he does not say so in this piece, I suspect that he would agree with me that this is no time for complacency. Whatever else may be true about the growth or decline of the Christian church in America, we still face the impending encroachment of more and more secular thinking, the relentless onslaught of moral confusion and anti-religious bias. And frankly, the reports of this nature don’t paint the fullest picture.

I urgently desire the people gather for worship. We continue to see growth in worship attendance at St. John. Peoples’ lives are being changed. We’re actually beginning to see people who were truly outside the Christian faith begin to embrace the Christian walk, and repent and believe the Good News about Jesus. Adult baptisms are occurring with more frequency than they used to. But we have a long way to go. And there is a bigger story.

Just last week Diane and I drove around looking a new houses, and new developments in northwest Harris County. I was stunned to see as many new developments, and to learn about the existence of fully-built out developments of which I was not aware – all within 10 miles of our church. To some extent, we should be seeing growth just be having our doors open and a friendly face or two welcoming people when they come. That’s just on the basis of the number of people moving into our area alone.

I’m not convinced, however, that we’re keeping up. I believe that the rumors of the demise of the Christian church are greatly exaggerated. I also believe, however, that Jesus’ prayer example and command are more urgently needed now than ever before.

Lord of the living harvest, send laborers into your harvest fields. If those laborers include me, give me courage and boldness to go…whether around the world or around the block. Let your reign come into my heart, O God, and allow me the privilege of manifesting your reign in my world today. In Jesus’ name; Amen.

Ed Stetzer is the executive director of LifeWay Research. His article may be found at http://www.USATODAY.com: http://usat.ly/1bPdNDh

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