The Gagging of God
Jesus said to his followers: "Do you think the work of harvesting will not begin until the summer ends four months from now? Look around you! Vast fields are ripening all around us and are ready now for the harvest."1
In the last quarter century or more we've spent millions of dollars on church growth but there has been little increase in the number of Americans being born again. Much of what we have seen is church movement—people moving from one church to another. Furthermore, according to surveys conducted by research specialist, George Barna, here in America there is little or no measurable difference in lifestyle between average Christians and non-church people. As Vance Havner put it, "Our doctrine is sound—sound asleep."
In the 1800s many of the great spiritual movements were coming out of Great Britain. At the beginning of the nineteenth century fifty percent of the British people were in church. I have read that, by the end of the Twentieth Century, it will be less than five percent. People left the organized church by the multiplied thousands. According to Gavin Reed (a British minister) in his book, The Gagging of God, over time in England the needs of the people changed, but the average church program remained the same and became irrelevant. Church people ended up talking mostly to themselves and except for scattered pockets of revival, the church in Great Britain lost its impact of bygone years. The same is true throughout Europe, once the cradle of Christianity.
Are we doing any better in the U.S. and other Western nations at communicating effectively to those outside the church? Aren't most of our efforts in the print media, Christian radio, music, TV ministries, and now in Christian web and email ministry talking primarily to ourselves and "preaching to the choir?"
What will happen to over-the-seas evangelism if across-the-street evangelism dies?
And what will happen to this nation of U.S.A., built on a spiritual foundation with justice and liberty for all, if the church here becomes irrelevant to the needs of today's generation and loses its impact. The consequences for our children and our children's children are unthinkable. And the sad fact is that the church in the U.S. is already in decline.
Perhaps the answer begins in God's word to King Solomon: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."2
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please send a revival and a spiritual awakening to churches and Christians everywhere and let your work begin in me. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. John 4:35 (NLT).
2. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV).