The Church Will Prevail

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Fontana Christian Fellowship Church

It’s a sad situation in the church today, isn’t it?

The big news recently has been the amount of abuse in the Catholic Church. Just in the state of Pennsylvania, there have been over 1000 victims of 300 different priests in the last 70 years. Almost all of them were minor boys or girls, many of whom when they tried to tell others were not believed. When it was found to be true, it was covered up and allowed to continue.

Also, recently there have been similar situations in strong evangelical churches. One was the huge Willow Creek Church in the Chicago area, one of the most influential amongst evangelical churches in the United States. Their founding senior pastor who was about to retire, left early under a cloud of accusations from women that he allegedly harassed sexually.

And what has happened to the Colsons, and Falwells? They were respected Bible believing leaders, who were speaking out for the issues of our times. There was no scandal with them, they just lost their ministries to death or old age. But who is rising up to take their place? Certainly, there are a few others speaking up, but they don’t have the influence that their prior generation had.

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Billy Graham preaching to 1000s.

The political battles haven’t gone our way and we have lost the good reputation we once had. It seems the evangelical movement has decided to just preach the gospel and not worry about the old issues.

But even in the realm of evangelism, we don’t hear of big Billy Graham Crusades any more or even big gatherings of believers like the Promise Keepers Movement. What’s happening to the church these days?

Even in the little corner of the universe of my church, things haven’t been going so well. At one point in the 80’s our congregation was well over 300, now we barely make 20 on a Sunday morning. We’ve seen the decline over the years as people left one or two at a time or in bigger groups because of some divisive issue in the church. It’s easy to throw up our hands and give up.

The evil one has certainly made inroads into the church worldwide. Nowadays there is not much difference between the world and the church, the same problems popping up in both.

peter-the-rockBut it’s interesting what Jesus says in Matthew 16:18 (ESV), “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” He doesn’t say, “You will build the church on me and it will prevail. No, he says He’s building it on Peter. (Of course, there is a play on his name as “Peter” is close to the original word for “rock.”) Continue reading

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Church Resurrection Sunday

 

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the Body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:26-27                                                                                                                             

I recently came across a book called Autopsy of a Deceased Church. The title gives you the shivers, doesn’t it? It brings to mind pictures from one of the many forensic shows on these days. A naked cadaver is brightly lit in the middle of a cold examining room. The coroner makes a huge incision down the middle of his chest. He looks at pieces of it under the microscope. Meanwhile, family members are in a waiting room not far away grieving the loss of their loved one.

An autopsy is a sad picture for a church as well: a church consultant sitting in a café casually talking with the last remaining church members one after the other. “So what were the last few years like at… what was the name of your church again?” Each one has a far away look in their eyes as they reflect on the many years that lead to its demise.

  • “I think we forgot why we existed. We didn’t talk much about the Great Commission,” one says.
  • “All I remember is fights over some decision or another the elders made,” another reflects.
  • “We talked a lot but only prayed a little.”
  • “It became all about making the few of us still going, happy. It was all about ‘what I want in a church.’ “

Well, let’s get that image out of our head, and replace it with another… Church Resurrection Sunday. A church on the brink suddenly turns around. God is at work.

As people come in to the service, they are happy to see each other, they smile and exchange hugs. “We may be few but at least we have each other,” they say.

In the prayer and sharing time, one person stands up and says, “Please pray for my co-worker, I explained some of the gospel to him and I would love to see him come to the Lord.” A few others make similar requests.

Then another rises to their feet. “I would like to ask for forgiveness for the way I have behaved the last few years,” and after a bit more explanation of their sin of gossip, they close, “Will you forgive me?” A number of people say “yes” right out loud.

“After many years of ignoring each other,” another jumps in, “my sister in the Lord and I have reconciled and put all our differences behind us.” People begin to clap.

Then they go to prayer and it’s not just the pastor who prays; many contribute by praying aloud. He has to shorten his message because the prayer time goes so long, but he doesn’t mind at all.

The church is living out what it is called to be and it’s resurrected from what looked like certain death.

Now that’s a better picture, isn’t it?