As we listen to hear His voice, we also seek to learn what others in the Church are hearing, thus joining our voice to theirs as one prophetic voice for all to hear. In the next posts, I will suggest some connections to other sources and other prophetic voices.
IS THE CHURCH IN DECLINE?
In the scriptures, a true prophet was one who's eyes and ears were attuned to those of the Lord. They were given to see things as the the Lord saw them. They could see the true state of affairs that prevailed, and if nothing was to change, the dire consequences that would inevitably result. They were sent to be the voice of the Lord, warning, and calling for change.
One such voice was the prophet Haggai. He lived ca. 520 B.C. during the time of the Israelite's return from the Babylonian captivity. Haggai received this word from the Lord.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 1:7-9
It is not uncommon to see signs in front of churches announcing various kinds of fundraising sales they are conducting. But when the sign is announcing that the church itself is for sale - well that's quite another matter to get your attention.
A church building, standing tall in a neighborhood, is a sign of the presence of a faith community in its midst. It is their home, the place where they come together to learn and grow in their faith. The church is God's house and they are his family. Here they receive the Good News of God's love. They are built up in faith and made ready to go out into the world to be witnesses of that Good News by their lives.
Now the church building is not "the Church", it is the people, the faith community themselves, who gather within it, who are the Church. Yet, a church building is an important sign of the presence of such a viable faith community. Churches of the past stood tall and majestic among all the other buildings, their steeples pointing heavenward, their bells announcing the presence of the Redeemer come into the world for the salvation of all the people. Now churches are dwarfed by the great "cathedrals" of the secular world. The question then: is the Church in decline, together with faith in God?
Here is a link to a website that looks at this question from a statistical perspective.
Papers by Reginald Bibby *** His Website address