While attending a pastor's training program at Oklahoma City University recently, one of our speakers quoted from a recent statistic indicating that 85% of all churches across the United States are either dying or are in decline. I was astounded!
Churches my wife and I have been attending over the past 20 years have consistently grown and some are even in building programs, trying to decide how to handle tremendous growth. So what are some of the Oklahoma churches doing right that others appear to be handling badly?
It boils down to three things. First, the Spirit of the true and living God must be alive and vibrant in the church, from the pulpit to the pew. Second, everyone in the church must come to realize that if they fail, the mission fails. . . EVERYONE!
And finally, the pastor must be called, and not simply appointed, into his or her position. There is a vast difference between the calling of God and the appointment of man. Regardless of a pastor's credentials, there is no substitution for a genuine, honest calling upon the pastor's heart for the location into which he or she has been called.
The church I am currently pastoring was without a pastor for four years prior to my calling. Once I felt called, the appointment followed, and not the other way around. As the scripture states "How can he preach, except he be sent?" And not by man, but by the Holy Spirit.
The operation of the gifts of the Spirit cannot fully function unless there is a church, and not just a social club gathering to share the latest gossip or participate in a sporting event. Within the heart of every man, woman, and child,. . . God placed a sincere hunger. . . for himself- - a hunger that nothing else can satisfy or satiate. No amount of programs or theatre can replace a visitation by the presence of the almighty creator of the universe.
Putting God FIRST in a church, ensures that God will cause all of the other pieces of the puzzle to nicely fall into place -- a natural consequence of obedience to God. And, growth is one of those pieces. So, don't program God OUT of the service!
So, if your church fits into one of those statistically in decline, I would ask myself the question "What am I (emphasis on I), doing to correct it???