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Monday, January 16, 2006

Star-Gazette.COM - Local News

Here are a couple quotes from this article:

"The impending sale of a United Methodist church in Elmira, NY reflects a declining membership in mainline churches as society becomes increasingly more secular, church leaders say."
"'Part of what I think has happened in America is we've gotten very comfortable with all that we have, and we assume that money can buy anything that we want,' Preisinger said.

'Sometimes folks forget a need for God, and God becomes almost a hobby or something you do on the side.'

'It's not a question necessarily of people going to other denominations or other churches,' he said. 'It's a question of the secularization of the United States and the diminished interest in church.'

Copyright © 2006 Star-Gazette."

DISCLAIMER: Not all mainline churches are the same. Yes, I know I am painting with too broad a brush.

This article is just dead wrong. People have not forgotten a need for God. They know they have need. The problem isn't the secularization of society but the secularization of MAINLINE CHURCHES! In general, people don't need what your typical liberal mainline church is offering. They don't offer a gospel of good news.

The gospel of inclusion spouted by some mainline churches doesn't really have any good news. It essentially says God loves you and you're OK. The biblical gospel is one of transformation. Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins of all humanity and through faith in Jesus Christ and becoming part of his body, the church, God can change your life to be more like Him.

Most people can see at least some of the significant internal and external issues of their life. They know they need help. The gospel of inclusion doesn't offer them help because it tells them nothing is wrong.

Beyond not needing the gospel of inclusion offered by mainline churches, the culture they offer is needed even less. Many of these small village and town mainline churches are embroiled decades old all consuming conflict where it's a battle of wills to get their way. They fight ... to keep their building and property, or their organ, or their pews, or to keep the multimedia equipment out, or just about anything they can fight about. They fight to keep decades old ineffective programs. They fight about stuff that no one but them cares about. No one is going to join them in their cause.

No one needs their dysfunction. No one needs their gospel. No one needs their god who seems more like an impotent old grandpa than a deity.

Charismatic and evangelical churches are growing worldwide at an extraordinary rate — even in mainline denominations. Why? In part, the god of their gospel still reaches into the world performing signs and wonders and still healing people. He can do something about their problems. He answers prayer. He offers hope, the promise of being a new creation, forgiveness from sins and freedom from guilt. That's Jesus Christ — the God I know and love, who has risen from the dead and conquereded sin and death.

Despite all their dysfunction and heresy, I love those churches and their people. I love dreaming and scheming and working to make them grow. I love hanging out with them at their church dinners and yard sales. And I admire their tenacity.

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