The Easter season will continue for about seven more weeks. During this time, the lectionary features various texts on resurrection appearances or on the theme of new life in general. The church is certainly in need of resurrection. My own denomination, The United Methodist Church, is facing a crossroads over human sexuality at a special called General Conference in February and I’ll be attending as a delegate. Regardless of where the church lands on this issue, it appears that a split is not so likely as an exodus.
We also hear about the church in general within the United States being in a state of decline. It seems that people are not attending worship as much as they did in the past. Our culture is moving toward a post-Christendom vibe as being a “none” or someone who has no religious preference or activity is becoming the new normal rather than someone who is an active disciple involved in a local church.
Many times, we hear the longing for the good-ol’ days when our Christian faith seemed to have more influence. For some this means the church of their childhood. Others realize that church in that age wasn’t perfect either and they harken back to the early church when it was still led by people that walked with Jesus when he led his earthly ministry in the flesh.
The lectionary features the book of Acts which highlights the early church. Acts is a wonderful book of faith that shows us the vision of what the church could be. But it was written in hindsight and may not expose all of the warts it could have. If you want those, you have to read the hands-on account of the apostle Paul in his letters to the early church. So Paul’s letters really remind us that the church has always had some of the same issues in every age: it is composed of people. While this is a great joy as we are made in God’s image, it is also a hazard because, well, we don’t always live up to our potential!
Over the next four weeks, we’ll be exploring this theme of what the church could be today in light of the changes going on all around us.
This Sunday, will be the first in this series as I highlight Acts 4:32-35 and attempt to answer the question, “Is the Church in decline?” In order to keep in line with the Easter season, I will contrast the death of the institution with the resurrection of mission. If you are in the Edmond area, we hope you’ll join us for worship. If you aren’t or are already active in another church, you can still join us online at your convenience for the full service on our Facebook page or for the sermon as a podcast or on our YouTube page. Keep those hits coming whether in person or virtually and we’ll show the world that faith is still alive and well within the body of Christ!
Check out Sam’s Blog here: http://precedinggrace.blogspot.com.
Photo by Fueling Creative Fire via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.