After 52 years of ministry, skydiving 98-year-old preacher, Roy Jernigan wants people to see Jesus in his life. I can relate to Roy’s testimony. I am 86 and I know God still has more for me to do specifically to alert the church to God’s soon-coming Millennial Kingdom on this earth. Checkout http://www.millennialkingdom.net
Asked to comment on the state of the American Church today:
Jernigan quickly explained that the main driver of his faith is the Bible without the trappings of denominational restrictions.
Jernigan has certainly got this right. The denominational church is not the church Jesus established as outlined in the Book of Acts. Jesus calls us all to be disciples who make more disciples. We all like the denominational church model as it removes this essential facet of the church. It is the pastor’s responsibility to grow the church so we can get on with our lives doing what we want to do.
“I’m not a denominational man. I don’t criticize the denominations but think about this: we have all kinds of denominations — Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, you name it, and every one of them has a different doctrine,” he explained. “They can’t all be right. And so, consequently, I don’t claim a denomination. I claim to be a Christian. And as a Christian, I follow the New Testament teachings on the Apostle Paul.”
And Jernigan’s nondenominational approach to ministry aligns with the direction of the American Church today. Data from the 2020 U.S. Religion Census show that in the last 10 years, the number of American Christian adherents in nondenominational churches nearly doubled in number and surpassed America’s largest Protestant denomination, Southern Baptist, by several million adherents.
Other recent studies also show that while America remains a highly religious nation, with seven in 10 claiming affiliation with some kind of organized religion, for the first time in nearly 80 years, fewer than half now say they have formal membership in a specific house of worship. Church attendance has also continued to decline in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.
While he admits that being a Christian today is much harder than it was 50 years ago when fewer distractions were competing for people’s attention, Jernigan believes that the model of many church ministries today is partly to blame for people deserting the pews.
“I’ll be honest with you, one of the biggest problems that pastors have today is trying to build a church on their own,” Jernigan told CP.
“Today, preachers have gotten themselves into such a rut by building big buildings with stained glass windows and everything. And the people have deserted them because they get tired of being bled to death [financially]. And hear the preacher say, ‘you got to give, you got to give, you got to give.’ My conviction is you don’t have to hound Christians to give. If they are saved, they love the Lord, they will give,” he said.
Jernigan also criticized preachers who treat their ministry as a business. “I think it’s the wrong approach. Commercial? You don’t commercialize God. I believe this is a gross mistake, that people, you see so much of this today, trying to commercialize and put things into a peaceful (more like bless me) type of thing rather than teaching the Bible,” he said. “I do believe if preachers would come down off the high horse, and quit preaching, what I call cotton candy messages, that’s all fluff and no substance, I believe there’d be a great difference in the world today.”
And as the church continues to compete for the attention of society today, Jernigan is worried that current social trends might lead to a point in society where Jesus is “completely rejected.”
“Today, there is much more to pull a person away than there was in my day,” he said. “It is much more difficult. And it does appear to me that as the time approaches (Jesus return to put things right), that things are going full circle to the extent that Christ … is going to be completely rejected.”
He urged Christians who left institutional churches but still want to maintain their Christian faith to keep reading the Bible and praying to God for direction.
“My heart goes out to so many people, it really does,” he said. “There are a lot of people out there that are hungry, and they’re thirsting for the Word of God, but they don’t have anyone to give it to them.” You be one of those Christians that does do what Jesus called us to do i.e. bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the lost.