Pitiful failure

Here is what David Laubach recently had to say about the state of the church in America at the recent Baptist World Alliance meeting:

According to Laubach, 75 percent of churches in the United States are plateaued or declining and 24 percent are growing because they are poaching new members from those declining churches.

Only 1 percent of U.S. churches are growing because they are reaching the unchurched population, he said.

Since most American churches are small, the issue of survival assumes critical importance and depletes energy and resources. Across denominational lines, those in churches of fewer than 100 members said that “keeping the church going” was their chief concern. That concern was only slightly less important in churches with fewer than 250 members.

“Shrinking resources, absence of biological growth, aging mainline denominational populations, mobility, consumerist/entertainment culture, a sometimes-hostile environment, increased pastoral expectations and role overload, dramatically shifting ecclesiology, church change and conflict” are among the stress producers North American clergy deal with regularly, Laubach asserted.

The stress can create its own problems, he noted, because “emotionally drained pastors can succumb to moral failure and personal and family breakdown.”

Only 1% of churches are growing by reaching the unchurched population. 1%. If this is true, what a horrible indictment of the church.

If this is true, then why is it occurring? Why aren’t people in churches reaching the unchurched lost friends and neighbors around them? What do we do about it? What do we do right here in Austin, Texas today?

One of the commenters on the Catablog post, Steve Bradley had some extended thoughts on his own blog that are interesting. I think that he absolutely nails it. Here is a portion of his entry, but please go read all of it.

The funny thing I realized after awhile is that I really didn’t know anyone who wasn’t a part of a church. All this church activity was centered around church, and you just expected unchurched folks to be interested at some point and show up. If they did show up, the goal was to get them to forsake the world and get busy doing church things. So they could be worn out hoping other unchurched people would show up and become a part of all this activity. You get the point…

We must always take the time to ask why we are doing what we are doing and how whatever the activity is fits into our main role as ambassadors for Christ entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation.

Hat tip Catablog

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5 Responses

  1. Keith! Thanks for your comment on the Catablog! Good thoughts here!

  2. thanks, Jesse.

  3. Keith — thanks for your comments on my blog. Great thoughts here — love 1 Cor. 5 — more folks need to realize that every believer is called to be a minister of reconciliation…

  4. Steve, I like your blog. I enjoyed your credibility graph and the saga of the lost debit card.

  5. […] bookmarks tagged pitiful Pitiful failure saved by 3 others     panafigo bookmarked on 08/22/08 | […]

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