Bryant and I have been attending a series of "Rejuvenation" meetings for LCMS churches, and it's really made me think about what the church is, what it does, and why people attend (or fail to attend). LCMS churches in the city are declining in membership to an alarming degree, retaining mostly an aging population. Young people, for the most part, are not staying in the church or finding themselves attracted to it.
Most of us simply go about business as usual, not realizing that the church is approaching the day when it must close its doors because of a lack of interest. Is it our fault? Is it the fault of parents who did not pass on their dedication to the house of God? Is it the fault of pastors who missed the mark in their ministry? Can we simply blame it on the world for presenting its strong temptations and persuasive heresies? Or has Christ "removed the candlestick" as He promised in Revelation? If parents "drop the ball" in relaying their faith to the next generation, what feat of wits or strength can restore it? If no one presents these riches of faith with the proper reverence and passion, how can a lost generation re-discover it? It would take nothing less than a miracle, such as the story of Ezra; yet, God can do that too.
The church has so much to offer its people, and yet most of us go through the motions and do not reflect on the riches available to us. We criticize the cheap marketing tricks and gimmicky attempts to "sell" Christianity in a watered-down form, but what is the legitimate means to helping people understand the depth of God's love? You see I have more questions than answers at this point. I invite you to respond with ideas and an outside perspective.