The beautiful red-bricked church of St. Andrews in Easton, Maryland, was known for its open door. Generations had gathered at St. Andrews to enjoy food, fellowship, and Sunday worship. So it came as a jolt to most parishioners when the bank foreclosed on the building and sold the property at auction.
Sadly, this is not a rare occurrence. There are thousands of houses of worship in America, and every week a few of them close their doors. The Christian Science Monitor ran a column a number of years ago entitled, “The Coming Evangelical Collapse,” which proclaimed, “We are on the verge—within 10 years—of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity.”
But not so fast! I’m not ready to accept defeat. These are exciting times to be a Christian. The Church around the world is growing at a pace unequalled since Pentecost, and this is the greatest harvest season in the history of Christianity.
While I’m realistic about the challenges facing evangelism today, Christianity has a way of outliving its critics. News magazines and newspapers may soon be a thing of the past, but it’s a mistake to assume that Christianity is dead and buried. Don’t discount the power of God in the hearts of men and women.
A Revival of Mission
If we’re going to open the doors and see the people in our churches, we need a revival of mission. In Matthew, Jesus told us to go into all the world, winning, baptizing, teaching, and making disciples in all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).
With that admonition to go, the Lord Jesus promised to build His Church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). Whether we’re respected in society, or neglected and abused, we have a mission—to take the Good News of Christ to the ends of the earth and to bring the Gospel to anyone willing to listen. We aren’t here to be successful, influential, wealthy, famous, or praised by a degraded society. We’re here to pave the way for the Lord’s return by sowing the Gospel, both in person-to-person and nation-to-nation.
A Revival of Mercy
We also need a revival of mercy. Our ministry of compassion is one aspect of our faith that critics cannot deny. Even though the pundits rail against our stand on immorality, they respect our work with those in need. We’re to be like Dorcas, who “was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did” (Acts 9:36). The good deed you and I do for someone authenticates our testimony, shares the compassion of our Lord, and paves the way for our message.
A Revival of Magnetism
Finally, we need a revival of magnetism. I believe God wants to draw people to Himself through our testimony, and the Holy Spirit wants to use us as living magnets to attract people through the open doors of our churches.
Charlotte Baptist Chapel in historic Edinburgh, Scotland, has a history of more than 200 years. It was established in 1808, but after several decades, attendance dwindled to about 30 people. An offer was made for the property, but the church secretary, Andrew Urquhart, rejected the offer. He said:
I, for one, am not going to believe that the light which has burned so long in this place is going to be put out; that the people who so long labored for the advancement of the Redeemer’s cause are to retire from the work in despair; that the door of this dear old Chapel, hallowed by many blessed and holy memories, is to be closed. … I believe the crisis is of God, and He will bring us through it.
The sale did not go through. In 1901 the church called a new pastor named Joseph Kemp. On his first Sunday, only 35 people came. But prayer meetings sprang up, open-air meetings were conducted, the building was renovated, the Gospel was proclaimed, and revival fell on the church and on the city—the effects of which remain today. It is a reminder that the power of God to maintain our mission and proclaim the Gospel has never wavered or weakened. Don’t let the doors close on your mission to the Church, keep it open and flourishing by the power of God working in your life.
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of
Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
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For a Christian to thrive in the current culture, it takes more than faith. It takes courage. Dr. David Jeremiah begins the series, Courage to Conquer, in order to help you grow in this important attribute-especially if you tend to react with fear to what’s happening in the world.