Is the Church Dying?

This was part of our discussion today in our monthly clergy Circuit Meeting.  Of course it’s the conversation among lots of people in lots of places, but it dominates our discussions as well.

Much thought was put into the pros and cons of various programs and processes which purport to help stave off congregational decline.  There is no shortage of self-proclaimed experts out there who will sell you a program or consultation service or book or DVD series to take a small congregation into the realm of mega-churches.  
We lament the decline of traditional Protestant denominations in the United States, but what struck me as the various opinions and points of view were exchanged today is that we shouldn’t be surprised at all of this.  The founder of our church was hung on a cross and died as a common criminal.  God not only allowed it but it was part of his master plan.  
Part of the Old Testament lesson for this Sunday jumped out at me, Isaiah 50:5-6:   The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward.  I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; i hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.
The Creator of the Universe did not exempt his own Son from such scandalous treatment.  How is it that we think his Bride the Church is going to escape unscathed?  I trust that on the other side of all of this change and upheaval, we will all point in marvel and wonder to the work of God the Holy Spirit in our midst, no matter how brutal things became in the process.
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