The local church can be the catalyst to feed more people, heal more people, educate more people, free more people . . . in short, help more people than any other institution in America.
WHAT'S GOING ON?
The faith community is at a crossroad of conscience. For the church to regain its precious place in the
hearts of those seeking spiritual fulfillment, we must align our words and actions –
“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with action and in truth.”(1 John 3: 18)
And, when the faith community goes into the voting booth remembering the full range of compassion-
based values, and not just “hot button” political issues, and reaches out beyond the church’s walls, the
impact in our church members’ lives, and through them, to the nation, will be greater, farther reaching,
and longer term. In this way, the faith community can be the catalyst to feed more people, heal more
people, educate more people, free more people . . . in short, help more people than any other
institution in America.
Churches are searching for relevance...and members.
For the church in the early 21st century Bob Dylan’s lyric should read: “For the times they’ve already
changed.” Most religious and church leaders agree that local churches in America are struggling to find
their footing as they seek to remain, or for most, to become, relevant again in the lives of their
Traditional church in decline
There is a continuing decline in church membership. For the past decade Yearbooks published by the National Council of Churches show that 8 of the largest protestant denominations in America have shown steady and continuing decline. In addition, the annual rate of church closures is more than 4,000 churches along with over 3,500 people a day leaving the church.
Pastors in turmoil
Pastors are in turmoil. The confusion and resulting anxiety felt by the pastors is evidenced by startlingly low pastor morale reflecting a growing increase in pastor resignations; caused by a combination of feelings of despair (not what and where I thought I’d be; congregation resists any thought of changing who they are) and seeing emerging church start-ups succeeding “across the street,” taking the best of his members attracted to “doing church” as he wished his church did it. Surveys by The Barna Group, Gallup and other firms reveal the following about what pastors think about their role and career:
90% said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be before they entered the ministry.
90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
85% of pastors said their greatest problem is they are sick and tired of dealing with problem people, such as disgruntled
elders, deacons, worship leaders, worship teams, board members, and associate pastors.
The profession of "pastor" is near the bottom of a survey of the most-respected professions, just above "car salesman".
#1 reason pastors leave the ministry: Church people are not willing to go in the same direction and goals of the pastor.
Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction but the people are not willing to follow or change.
Most church members are disengaged from serving others
Members of local churches in America do not serve others. A recent Gallup poll found that only 10% of regular church attendees (the faithful) are involved in serving others outside the church walls; and 50% of those not serving say they never will. That means, at best, only 55% of those who call themselves regular church members will even consider serving. What a tragedy…for them, their church and community, and those who so desperately need them.
While this is not a new phenomenon, there has been a shift away from serving others in traditional denominations in the last 50 years. Pastors say that it is increasingly difficult to “find volunteers” to do the “work of the church.”