My wife and I have traveled in Europe on vacations several times, and have always enjoyed our trips.
The people were generally friendly and welcomed us wherever we went. Some of the attractions we enjoyed seeing were the beautiful cathedrals and churches.
We asked about attendance, since they were usually about empty, except for tourists, and some clergy. We found they were poorly attended, since many people seem to go only on major religious days, such as Christmas, and Easter. Friends in Germany said they went to weddings and funerals, and a few other events during the year.
We asked how the churches were supported, since so few people attended. We were told that everyone had to pay a tax to the government to keep them up. Even though the amount was small, many seemed to resent having to pay it. Basically, churches in Europe are cold and dead.
I'm afraid this trend will eventually happen in our country, and may have already started in some areas.
One of the causes of this phenomenon is the lack of evangelistic activity. If we are to have thriving churches, well-attended and supported, we must have knowledgeable and trained evangelists from the laity, Christian people who devote part of their time to witnessing for our Lord Jesus Christ.
They must share the gospel truth of God, and win the lost. We can't expect the paid staff to do all the witnessing, and just leave the soul-winning to them.
Many congregations are doing just that today, and the results are devastating: Churches are losing members; few people are saved; baptisms are down; many smaller churches are closing their doors, unable to finance their budgets and pay their bills.
This is evident even in the Bible Belt, where, in the past, there has been a hot bed of evangelistic activity. But now, the evangelistic movement seems to be cooling off. In fact, an article in a newsletter called "Worldviews," a publication of Apologetics Resource Center of Birmingham, Ala., says that Evangelical Christians are becoming irrelevant in practice. The article goes on to claim that Evangelical Christians number only about 8% of the U.S. population, and that too many of this number are "circling the wagons and forming insulated Christian ghettos."
This is the time that Christians must be very serious about witnessing for Christ and winning the lost. Far too many Christians are spectators, who are content to sit comfortably in the pew and be entertained by good preaching and great music, but are not moved by them to evangelistic action.
This is the time for Christians to stand up for their faith and beliefs. The liberals are in leadership positions in our government, and the media and many others support policies of tolerance (whatever you do, or think, is OK), and logic, rather than the Truth of God.
They favor abortion, embryo-destructive research and gay marriage. These are now central in domestic policy.
Please join with me in a commitment to intentionally be more deeply rooted and grounded in God's Word, in sound doctrine. Let us be "others centered," instead of "self-centered," redemptively engaging people with the gospel, both in word and deed.
Please read Colossians 4:2-6, and let this be our guide for daily living. I pray you will be an active witness for our Lord Jesus Christ, and win many to His Kingdom.