Accepting the Current Reality of the Church
Can we acknowledge the stark reality of declining church attendance in the United States over the past 50 years? But that question isn’t enough. Let’s take it one more step. Do you accept the reality of the changing place the church holds in society? When we do, we can begin to explore ways to respond.
We’re not saying, sit and watch the church decline. What we’re focusing on is responding effectively to the implications of the church no longer holding pride of place in society. Additionally, there are places where the church is met with skepticism. Finally, overall, there are fewer people who claim to be Christian. Each of these are the reality of the church today.
There are at least three ways we can think to address this changing landscape. Falling in love with Jesus again, falling in love with one’s community, and building relationships with people.
Falling in Love with Jesus
Jesus should be at the center of everything a Christ-centered leader does. This love for Jesus goes beyond mere philosophy or weekly rituals. It becomes a way of life that influences all relationships. Loving Jesus means loving others as God loves us, leading to healthy relationships with God, neighbors, and oneself.
Embracing Your Mission Field
It’s also important to embrace your community as your mission field. Mission work no longer something taking place in distant places. It’s also not about going into communities that are different from where you live. It’s about following God into our communities.
We live in a time where church leaders need to see their local communities as their mission field. Relationships are at the core of this approach. How do we do that? The steps may sound simple, but they’re not always easy. First, get to know the people in the community. Second, listen to the people in your community. What are their hopes, dreams, and needs? How can you come together to make a difference? Offering compassion is a crucial step in loving the community.
The obvious challenges that emerge come from the finite resource we all share: time. The competition for people’s time with various family and community activities is real. However, our focus should not be on competing but on joining the community and loving its members. Keep in mind, that Jesus is not confined within church walls.
It’s time to get outside the church building. When we do, we encounter Jesus in unexpected places. Imagine seeing Jesus on soccer fields, in parks, at schools, and in shopping malls. Now tune your heart, eyes, and ears to following Jesus into your community.
Teaching the Ways of Jesus
It should go without saying, but, teaching people the ways of Jesus is essential to who we are as Christians. Rather than assuming everyone knows Jesus, church leaders can immerse themselves in the love of Jesus so that people experience Jesus through our actions and relationships. The goal is for the love of Jesus to permeate one’s being, much like the aroma of a distinctive food.
We invite you to share the episode with other church leaders and engage in conversations about its content. Be reminded, that living out these principles is not just a Sunday activity but an everyday relationship with Jesus that influences all aspects of life. By loving Jesus, loving the community, and embodying the teachings of Jesus, Christ-centered leaders can transform their churches and communities for the better.
Our hope is this podcast episode offers a practical and heartfelt guide for church leaders to navigate the challenges of declining church attendance and to become catalysts for positive change in their communities by truly living out the love of Jesus in their daily lives.