Church – What Has Changed?
Having spent my life in and around Church, it is easy to see that it has drastically changed over the past 40 plus years. Instead of an excitement about Church, there seems to be disappointment for most who consider themselves as Christian. There was a time when Churches were the center of any community or town. Before decisions were made, many of the local officials obtained feedback from the Church before a decision was finalized. The dramatic shift is also discernible in sermons, and the manifest presence of God.
Before the mid-seventies, Churches were focused on mainly one thing – representing Christ and His power to their communities, thereby bringing people to Christ. Miracles were the norm – not the abnormal. These and other concerns have resulted in some changes in the Church – mainly two.
It used to be that Pastors and Ministers were the most respected people in the nation. Because of events over the past 40 plus years, Clergy has given congregations and John Q. Public plenty of reasons to withdraw that trust. Does this mean that the Clergy today is less holy or spiritual than 40 years ago? Probably not. Sin has always been, and always will be, but there is a difference today.
Years ago, when there was lack of credibility in a Pastor, the congregation would move him or her, or even give them a sabbatical, rather than having the indiscretion publicized. Some of the most anointed men and women of the 19th and 20th Centuries had some moral and character issues, but today, multitudes still are unaware of them. Christians also knew the damage it could do to the mission and vision of their Church, or to their individual Christian witness. Now, it seems no one cares.
“Thanks” to TV, social media, and internet, those days are no longer. Now, when there is an indiscretion, even in the life of a virtually unknown Minister, the news quickly becomes viral and the whole nation, and sometimes the world are aware of what Pastor Doe did in his little Church of 20 people.
This weakened trust factor has been instrumental in the second major change in the Church.
Due to the lessened trust factor and the change in earning patterns in our nation, giving in the American Church has changed dramatically. People give less today, although they make more.
Growing up in Church, we were taught two things, apart from the need to receive Christ as our Savior and pursue our relationship With Him. We were taught that a Christian had an obligation to tithe (10%) of his or her gross income, and that we should give generously above that, as each was financially able.
As a kid in Church, people were quick to generously give for two main reasons above their tithe: They were engaged in every mission campaign and active in every building program. When a Missionary came to the Church everyone did what they needed to do to make sure the Missionary had ample funds to preach the Gospel in the country to which he or she was assigned. Now, the buzz words are: “Charity begins at home.”
It is possible that our lack of missions support has been at the root of the decline of Christianity in America. What we make happen for others, God will make happen for us (Eph. 6:8). Since we have not been as proactive with the Gospel around the world, via foreign missions, there is a lack of it here in the USA. When I say a lack of the Gospel in the USA, I am not referring to a Church service, or what we now call a sermon. Forty years ago and earlier, Pastors and Evangelists preached hell so hot that we could feel the heat. Now, because of “hyper-grace” Preachers preach that no one is going to hell.
Today’s generation will give to need-based projects when they relate to them. This is not how it should be. We should give tithes and offerings so there are ample funds to do ministry. Many have now resorted to fund-raisers just to pay the electric bill.
Will the Church ever get back to what She used to be? I doubt it. With that said, if it is to change, it is in our hands to make it happen. We can do it, one church at a time; one Christian at a time; one pastor at a time.
Even if we do not get the Church and Clergy back to where they should be, we can get out of the way and let people see that Jesus is, and always will be trustworthy and a giver. We can start with the trust issue and the giving issue will probably correct itself.
We Are Here for You
These changes have taken their toll on those in Ministry. Pastors are now among the most depressed and highest suicide attempt rates in the nation. Chitwood & Chitwood has seen every trend and knows how to advise Pastors and Churches to successfully navigate the winds of change without destroying the Pastor, Leaders, and the Church.
For information that will prepare you in some of these areas it is in every Pastor and Church Leader’s best interest to attend a Church Management Conference nearest your city. Visit us at www.cmtc.org or call 800-344-0076 for schedule and registration details. You will be glad you did.
For Chitwood & Chitwood this is “A Ministry – Not a Job!”