What’s Right With Mainline American Churches?

by Jim on January 8, 2013


Welcome my friends to the Ministry Encouragement Podcast, Episode #28.  I’m Rev. Jim W. Hollis, the Executive Director of Proactive Ministries, who is the sponsor of this weekly podcast.  Today I will respond to a constant flow of critical comments and writings about all the things wrong with mainline churches in America.

For the past several weeks I have heard key-note speakers, denominational leaders and seminar leaders spend quite a bit of their talk times on articulating all the problems of American mainline churches.   Being a realist who has worked closely with hundreds of mainline churches across America, I fully recognize that many of our churches in America today are in decline and having struggles greater than at any time in their past.  I am also aware of many of the reasons why things became this way and know that we are in major need of revitalization and renewal.

I’ve heard George Barna quoted multiple times.  According to his research, not one county in America ended 2012 with more Christians than it started with in the first quarter of that same year.  Less than 10% of churches added anyone on profession of faith in Christ.  And on it goes.  One could become pessimistic, or oppressed or depressed, which is anger turned inside.

However, I’m also an optimist who believes that when we return to trusting God again with greater spiritual unity and joyful obedience to go and reach others with the unconditional love of Christ – there can be new victories and transformations.  It begins with the lives of Christ-followers, like you and me.  Are we ready and willing to step up and follow a path of spiritual renewal and revitalization of lives and congregations?

And with many answers being, “Yes!” I would passionately submit that some incredible core realities and values of mainline American churches are the right ones.  What’s clearly right with many mainline American churches and Christians today?

  1. We have the right foundation – Jesus Christ, risen and alive today
  2. We have the right book for living our lives – the Holy Bible
  3. We have the right opportunities for ministry all around us today
  4. We have the right power available to us as Christ-followers – Divine Power of the Holy Spirit
  5. We will see a few right people who love Christ step up and seek coaching in ministry excellence

Are there major changes that we need to make in these churches?  Of course.  We want to start reaching more people with the Divine Love and Grace of Jesus Christ.  We want to see persons come into a personal relationship with God.  We want to see persons who have never experienced being part of the body of Christ, the church – discover the joy of becoming a vital part of Christian Community.  These are things that are certainly right and can cause our Christian lives to be better than ever.

So, will we rise the challenge and opportunities before us?  We will have the experience of seeing the Glory of God fall fresh on the mainline American churches?  It is definitely not a question of, “Can we do it?” but rather, a question of, “Will we live our lives in such a way as to do it?”  Business as usual will not bring these blessings to reality.  It will require a major increase in prayer ministry with feet to go with increased prayers.  This will give us “boots on the ground” in our communities to reach out, initiate and build new relationships, powered by the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.  We can!  Will we?  This takes place one Christian at a time.  Will we be one of the Christians who catches the vision of the mainline American church seeing her best days ahead rather than in the past?  We can become a one who makes a difference now.

Though a large percentage of our active Leaders and Members are older adults in many mainline American churches, they can still rise up, step up and venture through faith beyond the walls to touch lives.  This new movement can become a legacy that we can give not only to those in our community but to our children and grandchildren.  It can come to pass that in our grand children’s lives they will never forget the shift from decline to increase we brought about with the help of God in these days.

I thank God for everyone of you who listen to this and allow me to share in your life in this way.  I want to continue to encourage you to contact me personally, by email or voicemail on the Ministry Encouragement Podcast blog (right side of the page where there’s a “button” to click on and use your computer microphone to simply record your thoughts or prayer requests).  Each one of these come directly to me personally.  Your communications with me provide me with powerful encouragement and motivation to press on and pray consistently that with God’s help we may move spiritually to the next level of ministry.

You may be going through a very challenging and hard time right now in your own life.  Let me know how to pray for you specifically and my Staff and I will do so.  Send me an email and share what your thoughts are about our Ministry Encouragement Podcast today.  My email is: jim@ministryencouragementpodcast.com

And until the next time we are together through this podcast, may the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord make his face to shine upon you and give you peace.  You can do far more through God’s love and power than you ever dreamed possible.  Join me in praying for renewal and revitalization.  Join me in praying for  individuals who truly want to make a difference in other lives to give me a call about training for ministry excellence.  This is a personal choice – no committee needed.

And here is key text I want to share as our time together for another week and Episode comes to a close: 

John 10:10, NRSV  – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  These are Jesus’ words to us today.  What take-away spiritual themes can be learn from this text? 

  • The thief Jesus described here is Satan with the demonic forces at his command
  • The enemy wants to steal our opportunities to initiate and form new friendships
  • The thief wants to kill our spiritual growth
  • The enemy wants to destroy our closest and most precious relationships, often with family
  • Basic life is not all Christ intended, but abundant life – the life of ministry and joy

May God bless you and through the Holy Spirit at work in you fill you with joy.

Rev. Jim W. Hollis, Executive Director

Proactive Ministries (770) 803-9988

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