Look up. Do you see the harvest? Honestly do you see it? I can picture peter looking around trying to imagine what Jesus was talking about, and coming to the same conclusion as me… where is the harvest. We are living in a time of unparalleled similarity to the Jewish world. For example we are holding to a tradition that maybe strangling our churches, we are holding to a legalism that produces no fruit, we are looking at a world that grows farther and farther from us, while we retreat from it. Where is the harvest?
Many of you know I am burdened by the great number of churches that are plateaued and declining. I think the most recent number I saw was at 85%. Here is where I struggle, God is faithful, the church is his bride, and He will not leave his bride. On the other hand, God prunes branches that do not produce fruit. Where does this leave us… what is our future? I have long held that if a church is faithful to God, God is faithful to the church, but the question I keep coming to is, are we faithful?
As a pastor in the buckle of the Bible belt, I have seen about every brand of church you can imagine… multi campus, home, contemporary, cell, traditional, kid friendly, senior friendly ect. We truly have a full buffet of churches in the United States. The question must be asked though, If we have created so many options for church, why is the world still just as lost. This may be stepping out on a limb, but, we must ask, are we just creating more options to those who are already attending.
When I read Romans 12 I understand that God created the church to be the agent of change in this world, if this is the case why is it that the church seems to be tossed around by style more than surfboard in a typhoon. In the name of relevance are we jumping on every trend, while forgetting the power of the gospel. We are trying to lure people in through music, coffee shops and gimmicks while forgetting how big God is.
If we look I wonder if we could find a parallel of the decline of the church and the specialization of the church. Since there has been youth ministry, retention of youth has plummeted. Our churches have to a large degree stopped asking what would disciple people, and asked people what would make them happy. In return we have built a culture where church members move from church fix to church fix looking for a joy in programming that can only be found in Christ. We are not called as churches to be social organizations, we have not been called to be day cares, we have been called to be God’s hands and feet on this earth. We are not called to make men happy, we are called to make men holy.
The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
Over the next few weeks I would like to start a journey of asking tough questions about our current system of church and I hope that at the end of this journey we all could see the harvest that is right before our eyes.