Why is there such an urgency?
Today, the total number of U.S. congregations has slipped from 13,174 in 1990 to 12,300. That means a net loss of 874 churches in the last quarter-century — an average of 35 churches that closed their doors per year. In the same 25-year period, the nation’s total population rose to an estimated 320 million, up from 250 million in 1990. That’s an increase of 70 million — or 28 percent.
So what has happened? Is Jesus still head of his church? Yes, and he always will be. But as witnessed in Revelation 2-3, churches go through problems and difficulties. Attention to earthly details, budgets, and appearances often distract from our real goal of pleasing the Lord Jesus Christ. Although foreign missions are booming, local churches are suffering. We are programmed to death. Some churches are trying to become “Walmarts” to the consumer minded church seeker. If this is not turned around, support for foreign mission work will be dried up in lieu of building repair, parking lots, entertainment, and so on. What can be done? We need to go back to the foundation on which the church was built.
Matthew 16:16: “Jesus you are the Christ the Son of the living God.”
That means making Christ Lord and owner over everything. When you surrender to Christ, you are not your own, anymore. And Christ gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (elders) to equip the saints for the work of ministry. In the early church, many evangelists such as Paul, Timothy, Titus and Philip were not local preachers as much as they were sent to build up the Church in places where it had been established.
1 Corinthians 3:5-11: “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
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