I saw a picture of a college worship service and had to smile. Many of the stories we see about young people have to do with something like vaping, phone usage, or maybe the lone child who sets up a charity to help others.
Have you been worried about the next generation?
If so, look at a photo of the Breakaway service at Texas A&M. Maybe we should feel proud and confident instead. Each week, a crowd of more than ten thousand students gathers to worship the Lord together.
I wish stories like that one made the evening news!
The “dying church” is a myth
My husband, Jim, just read The Myth of the Dying Church: How Christianity Is Actually Thriving in America and the World by Glenn T. Stanton. According to Jim, Stanton “is the author of nine books and one of the most insightful commentators on American culture today.”
The point of the book is to encourage us that much of what we see on the evening news does not accurately reflect the truth of our faith. Things are actually looking pretty good—if you look in the right places. If you are in a conservative, evangelical church, then you are probably going to see your membership grow. The dying churches have compromised their theology in order to be more “culturally relevant.”
In other words, they lost the message of Christ because they started preaching for people instead.
The Holy Spirit always has the same plan
The Holy Spirit always draws a crowd.
The Breakaway service at Texas A&M has one objective. Their mission statement says they exist “to help any and every college student take either their first or next step with Jesus Christ.”
Their mission statement should serve as an example for every church and every Christian.
Our calling is to help people know Christ. If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit indwells you. If you are inspired by his priorities, you are helping people take either their “first or next step with Jesus Christ.”
It really is that simple.
In The Myth of the Dying Church, Stanton points out the many places in our country, and especially the world, where the Holy Spirit is using people to accomplish the purpose of Christ. We have been living with the impression that the “numbers” are waning and the mission is faltering. That is true in some churches, but it is not true for many others.
The Holy Spirit is highly successful anywhere Christ is invited and honored.
Why is the myth easy to believe?
This is the part of the blog post that might sting just a little.
If it helps, I had to get stung a few times in order to write it.
I was reading the Core Values of Breakaway on their website, and “humility” was the first value listed. Under that heading is written, “We trust in a powerful God and recognize the truth in John 15 that ‘apart from me you can do nothing.’” They go on to say, “We will lean completely on Jesus and His Spirit for wisdom and provision.”
The myth of the dying church is easy to believe because that is what Satan wants us to believe. C. S. Lewis said, “Like a good chess player, Satan is always trying to maneuver you into a position where you can save your castle only by losing your bishop.” In other words, we try to save things of lesser value only to realize they have cost us something of higher value.
I think there are a lot of churches that are trying so hard to save buildings and budgets that they have forgotten they exist to save souls. Jesus wants to use the buildings and budgets for the sakes of the people who aren’t in the building and don’t contribute to the budget.
Are we working hard to save the castle while losing our bishop?
Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”
Nothing is a definitive word.
The future can look good for ourselves and our churches
- If the Holy Spirit is active, people will come.
We often think of Pentecost as an historical event rather than a current possibility. Acts 4:31 says that the disciples prayed and “the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
It looks like many who attend the Breakaway service are experiencing what those early disciples did after Pentecost.
- Godly leaders are followers.
If your committees are led by people who know, then your committees might not be led by the people who follow. Our earthly tendency is always to choose the capable.
Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” Abilities completely submitted to the Holy Spirit’s direction and wisdom will produce godly leaders.
All other advice is worth nothing, but imagine what will happen when the Holy Spirit is allowed to lead.
- The Holy Spirit we are given is the Spirit of Christ.
Do we really understand the potential in being fully submitted to the Holy Spirit?
Isaiah 11 is a prophecy of Christ. Isaiah wrote, “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, and the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2).
That is the same Spirit God gave you when you became a Christian. He is available every time you humbly remember that, apart from his help, you can do nothing for God. With his help, you will accomplish things you would never have considered possible.
The future looks good
The reason the future looks good is that there will never be a day the Holy Spirit isn’t at work in the lives of those who know they need him.
I love that each week there is a stadium at a university that understands and teaches that truth to college students. The only “numbers problem” they have is trying to figure out where to put everyone!
Your personal ministry will prosper for the same reason. How will the Holy Spirit lead you today?
Apart from him you can do nothing—but with him, you will always do something. P. S. Every year, we ask our readers to consider donating to Denison Forum through North Texas Giving Day so that we can continue to build culture-changing Christians like you. North Texas Giving Day officially starts tomorrow, but you may click here to schedule your gift today. Also, we have a matching grant of $100,000, so every dollar you give will be DOUBLED! Give as you feel led—and thank you!