WHY IS THE AMERICAN CHURCH NOT THRIVING?
According to the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, there are more than 600,000 ministers in the United States. In America there is one Christian pastor for every couple hundred Americans. For comparisons sake Muslim nations have one Christian leader for every 420,000! It’s understandable why there are so few believers in these Muslim nations! But with 600,000 ministers; what is wrong with American church?
If we have so many Christian leaders and ministers in America then why are not seeing more results? Why are we not making a huge impact in our nation? Where is the fruit? If we are implementing heavens agenda and ideas in our churches and congregations then why are we not getting God results? If an idea truly came from heaven shouldn’t it be fruitful? I think that there are a variety of factors to consider, but today I want to get what I believe is the root of the problem.
Consider the following shocking statistics about Christian leaders…
•70% of pastors constantly fight depression and regularly think about leaving the ministry
•In one survey 31.75% of clergy admitted they had sexual intercourse with a church member-who was not their spouse.
•Only 26% of pastors said they regularly had personal devotions
Read that last statistic again… only 1 out of 4 pastors pray and have devotions on a regular basis. Let’s see what Jesus said about being fruitful for the kingdom.
In John 15:4 Jesus said…
4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered…”
The only way to bear lasting fruit in your personal life and for the kingdom is to abide in Jesus. Here lies the root of the problem! What these statistics tell us is that the majority of Christian ministers (74%) are not abiding in Jesus and therefore you can assume that those under their leadership are not abiding either; because you teach what you know, but you reproduce who are. I believe you can often tell the condition of a congregation by looking at the spiritual lives of the pastors and leaders in that church. I’m not writing this to be critical; I’m writing this as a wake up call to what this thing called Christianity is all about. It’s not about programs, big buildings, and big budgets… it’s about KNOWING HIM.
There is a lack of intimacy with Jesus in the American church, which leads to a lack of hearing His voice, which leads to a lack of implementing heavens ideas and strategies, which leads to a lack of fruit.
And by fruit I’m not talking about numbers, or church goers giving Jesus lip service… I’m talking about authentically changed hearts and lives. By fruit I am talking about giving people an encounter with Jesus. When is the last time you felt the presence of God in a church service? Not goose bumps or tingles; but the manifested presence of God? I believe there are many believers that go their entire Christian lives with out ever experiencing the presence of God in a church setting. We as ministers owe people an encounter with God. This is how lives are changed for eternity; when people experience Him.
Many Christians leaders say they are abiding, but when you take a look at their priorities and what they value; prayer is often found at the bottom of the list. We teach it much more than we practice it. We are professionals when it comes to busyness and getting things done, but we are amateurs when it comes to spending time in the secret place of prayer. The sad reality is that Christian leaders who are not spending time in the secret place are giving their people moldy bread. Christ said, “give us today our daily bread.” Mt 6:11
“It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the Kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Father’s table.” –A.W. Tozer
Just like the manna in Exodus 16 was only good for day and then it went bad; Every day we need fresh bread from heaven for ourselves and for those we lead in ministry. We owe it to the people to bring them a fresh word from heaven and not a piece of moldy, stale bread.
The month after 9/11/01 could have been one of the churches greatest hours. Every church was packed full of scared, hungry people looking for answers. Seekers came to find Jesus and instead experienced dead religion. They heard doctrine but they didn’t experience what their heart craved. Consider the words of A.W. Tozer in his classic work, “The Pursuit of God.”
“There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy.”
After 9/11 the lost came to church but they quickly left. The truth is that the Spirit has left the building because we stopped abiding. Many of those searching for truth after 9/11 saw withered, dried out branches that were not connected to the vine. -Jn 15:6
The reason for those shocking statistics you read earlier is because those pastors and leaders stopped abiding. They disconnected themselves from the vine. They were all around the river, but they didn’t jump in.
The enemy knows that if he can keep us from the secret place he has nothing to worry about; no true lasting fruit will come from our lives or ministries.
When you abide in Jesus it doesn’t matter what comes your way; No sickness, death, tragedy, or hardship can stop you when you abide in Him. We WILL go through difficult things in this life. Jesus said trials and tribulations will come and the only way to get through these without being bitter, disillusioned, and defeated is to stay connected to the vine. When we are in Him, and He is in us, we can have a peace and a joy that goes way beyond our circumstances.
This is what I believe the Holy Spirit is saying to the American church in this hour…“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” Rev 3:17 We should take the advice from Jesus and buy Gold from him. Rev 3:18
The only thing that can fix the church is Jesus, and He tells us the answer; “abide in me.” Apart from Him we can do nothing.
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