The Two Realities of the Local Church

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Eph 1:18-22)

According to researcher, and statistical data guru, George Barna, more that 211 million of the 300+ million Americans claim no church affiliation or personal relationship with Christ. Every day in America, 10 churches cease to exist. Only one-third of new church plants survive to see their three-year anniversary. 75% of churches are in decline. 24% are “growing”, if you call 5% over 5 years growth, but primarily through transfers from other churches. And only 1% of churches are growing primarily through reaching unchurched and dechurched people.

America is in the condition it is in because of the condition of the church. So Jesus gave the church a mandate to “go, and make disciples, baptizing, and teaching them, in the authority that God had given to Jesus” (Matt 28:18-20). Or another way Jesus said it was, “When my Spirit comes upon you, you will be my witnesses….” (Acts 1:8). So where is the breakdown between what Christ expects of His church and the reality of the average church?

The breakdown is the result of a lethal combination of poor leadership, poor ministry systems, poor organizational structures, and poor followship. In practical reality, the average church has become little more than a club for self-centered, flesh-controlled spiritual toddlers (some will even get mad just reading this article :).  Yet, in biblical reality, the church is the only hope of the world. We are to be “the ambassadors of Christ”, that carry God’s message of reconciliation to the world around us (2 Cor. 5:18-21).

As individual Christ-followers and churches we are “The Church”. We are specifically responsible for the redemptive potential God has entrusted to us. According to Scripture, “It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful (1 Cor. 4:1-5). We will have to give an account to God for how we have managed the redemptive potential He has entrusted to us.

With all the negative comments in the above paragraphs, I agree with Paul’s heart in the verses I quoted in the first paragraph; I pray the church wakes up and realizes the hope they have been entrusted with, who they are in Christ, and the “incomparably great power for us who believe”. Read those last two words again; “who believe.”

If you know Christ as your personal savior, the same power (Holy Spirit) that raised Christ from the dead lives in you. He wants to be released to carry out the work of God in and through you and your church.