Once upon a trip to the UK, I finally saw a few “cathedral” buildings in London that have been converted to other purposes.
Whoa! “So it is true!!!”
As I kept moving around the country, I heard more stories about churches being converted to homes, offices, pubs etc. I heard of a black church that had to merge with a white church on the verge of extinction.
However, I happened upon a white Pentecostal church. I worshiped there and saw elderly whites in church! Like I was going to ask someone behind me, I looked round and wondered, “I thought they said these people do not go to church!”
Professor-Emeritus Howard Hendricks of Dallas Theological Seminary, USA was called upon to checkout a church whose attendance was dwindling.
He attended a service with them and then left them this message:
“You guys should put a gate at your church and begin to charge gate fees. Tell people to come and see how church was being done in the 15th century!”
The whites we thought do not go to church have changed in culture, while the churches have remained the same, servicing a people that are no longer in town!
As I sat contemplating all these, I remembered Nigerian Orthodox churches and the battle against youth-drain!
I wondered if one day, some of our churches would not be on the verge of extinction!
Hopefully, the Pentecostal churches would bid to buy the structures, but why do we have to wait till then to do a proper diagnosis and address the obvious issues! After-all, it’s not that God has left the churches!
I remember a verse in the Old Testament that seems to me to be the minimum requirement for any one who wants to lead a congregation:
But in that day he will cry out, “I have no remedy. I have no food or clothing in my house; do not make me the leader of the people.” (NIV)
in that day he will speak out, saying: “I will not be a healer; in my house there is neither bread nor cloak; you shall not make me leader of the people.” (ESV)
1) What are people doing in church leadership who cannot solve the problems of church members!
2) I observed that an average Nigerian pastor in UK is time-unconscious! Members have accepted “fate”, and say,”it’s a Nigerian thing!”
Ha! That was how it started years back, when after 2 or 3 hours of service, we would go and wait under the trees in the car park. (I bet my dad never knew this!)
A time-efficient church I used to attend about 5 years ago in Lagos now sends the weekly bulletin by email on Saturdays! That means you have the Sunday announcements before Sunday! In church they just mention 2 or 3 critical announcements and refer people to the announcements in their mailboxes! After-all, the youth without an email address is not likely to listen in church anyway!
3) I remember a book given to me to read by a former mentor. I cant remember the title nor the author. But I remember that he says he would rather preach 4 topics in one whole year and be sure of effective communication, than preach 52 messages that no member of his church could confidently exude or discuss!
I tell my friends in the our online bible study group, “make only one point in your comment, or a maximum of two! After-all, what you know today, you did not learn in a single day!”
Today many-a-church serves us various courses of word meals, which an hour after service, many members may not be able to recollect!
4) I interacted with a British girl, and she was interested in popping into church one of these days, but her parents just dint want anything to do with church!
I think that is the harvest from the seed of dogmatic following!
When Paul got to Athens, he reasoned with brainy people, and he convinced them! Today people interject “I don’t want to sin, let me not ask questions!” When did asking questions so you can have a basis for your beliefs and actions become sin?
For such, I think it is a matter of time. If there is an opportunity, they would flee from church, after-all, they don’t “kuku” understand what is happening!
We need to study God’s word, and be convinced!
We are expected to think! Paul wrote Titus and said “the reason why I left you in Crete…” Reason implies thinking!
He wrote the Romans, “Let every one be thoroughly convinced…”
…convinced of what is right!