As I walked through Spain on the Camino de Santiago last year I saw many beautiful churches. In every city, town, and village we found a church right in the center. I got the sense that these churches were more like museums showing off artifacts from the past rather than Spirit-filled communities seeking to follow Jesus. The overwhelming majority of Spaniards claim to be "Christian," yet from the outside it appears that following Jesus isn't top priority.
In America, our churches may be a bit more crowded with people, but we are on a similar path. Church membership is declining in America, churches are closing, and people are searching for answers. Many people may be in church on Sundays, but following Jesus doesn't seem to be a top-priority.
Tomorrow I'm preaching on the Parable of the Sower found in Matthew 13:1-23. There may be some answers in this challenging story told by Jesus.
Stanley Hauweras writes:
"Why we are dying seems very simple. It is hard to be a disciple and be rich...The lure of wealth and the cares of this world produced by wealth quite simply darken and choke our imaginations."
"Too often those who propose strategies to recover the lost status and/or membership of the church do so hoping that people can be attracted to become members of the church without facing the demands of being a disciple of Jesus."
"The church in America simply is not a soil capable of growing deep roots."
"A church that is shrinking in membership may actually be a church in which the soil of the gospel is being prepared in which deeper roots are possible."
The church gained power, status, and wealth in this nation, but I'm not convinced it did us much good.Perhaps these things produced some bad soil incapable of growing deep roots?