DENOMINATIONAL CHURCHES IN DECLINE

The German bishops’ conference has announced that a record number of people are leaving the Catholic Church, with some 272,771 exiting the faith community during 2019.  That number indicates 56,000 more compared to the 216,000 who left in 2018. The previous record number occurred in 2014, with 218,000 deciding to leave the communion.  The chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Batzing of Limburg, lamented the figures and noted that a large drop in baptism and wedding ceremonies demonstrated the “erosion of a personal attachment to the Church.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, left, and Georg Baetzing, right, Bishop of Limburg and new President of the German Bishops’ Conference

The loss of members did not occur exclusively within the Catholic Church with the German Protestant Church (EKD) experiencing a similar decline, losing 270,000 people in 2019, which is an increase of 22 percent on the previous year. 

In Germany, the decline of half a million people in one year confirms what Jesus told His disciples would happen in the last days before He returns to rule and reign with a rod of iron. Jesus said there would be a great falling away in the church.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5

MORE WISDOM FROM FRANCIS CHAN ON THE FUTURE CHURCH

Francis Chan, the Cornerstone Church founder said he believes God has given the Church an opportunity in the pandemic to grow and become “deeply intimate” with Him. Chan said he believes God is using the crisis to wake up Christians.

Chan questioned how effective the Church has been with religious freedom when compared to places like China where the Church is persecuted.

“When you look at the places where there is religious freedom and you compare those places to where there is not religious freedom, what have we done with the freedom? It’s just weakened the Church,” he said.

I’m grateful for the people who fight for religious freedom. I’m grateful to have it. At the same time, I’m not really afraid of losing it because I look at how the church is flourishing and how it actually looks like the Church of Scripture where there is persecution. And again, I’m not saying I’m wanting that or desiring that. But what I am wanting is to see a pure Church where people are devoted, they’re serious and they understand what it means to really follow Jesus. Then we can really be a light to the world,” Chan explained.

“God does not put us in a situation where we can’t be deeply, deeply, intimate with him and growing with one another. Man don’t miss this,” he said, noting that it’s a great opportunity for parents to become more hands one with the spiritual development of their children.

GREAT COMMISSION UNDER THREAT

In 2015, Michelle Higgins, a Black pastor and organizer, stood up before tens of thousands of people at a popular evangelical conference in St Louis, Missouri, and told them that, as she put it, “mission work was really an exercise in exporting racism, and that evangelicalism was a moral protection for white supremacy.”

Higgins criticized the pro-life movement as “a big spectacle” on Monday in St. Louis where 16,000 evangelical Christian students gathered together.

Today, her criticisms are gaining ground. “For the last five hundred years, Christianity has been influenced by Martin Luther’s effort to decentralize the church,” Lisa Sharon Harper, the founder of a progressive evangelical religious group freedomroad.us, told me. “For the next five hundred years, the principle effort will be decolonization.”

More important than how Harper and others conceive of the last 500 years is what they predict for the ensuing 500: decolonization. And this is necessitated because of what has happened over the past half-millennia (or, at least, since 1619), the global project of white supremacy: “mission work was really an exercise in exporting racism, and that evangelicalism was a moral protection for white supremacy.” There you have it.

These are arid and divisive ideas, ones that are infecting certain quadrants of American Christianity. Left unchecked, they will cause problems for Christian fulfillment of the Great Commission.

WHAT GOD IS DOING IN THE USA

God is at work using individuals who are humble and committed to doing His work, His way. In the world’s eyes they are usually “nobodies” but in His eyes they are “somebodies”.

Take a look at this short video and be inspired to step out as God intends for you to complete His mission where He has placed you.

BEARING FRUIT AFTER 44 YEARS

We are never too old to be a true disciple of Christ, i.e. a disciple who makes more disciples. Listen to the amazing testimony of this Dutch couple who are now living the Christian life and bringing others to Christ. They are excited about what God is doing and will do each day. They are energised, happy, joyful and could not go back to the old church life that they lived for 44 years. You will be challenged by their testimony and hopefully it will cause you to follow their lead and connect with the The Last Reformation (TLR).

HOW TO BE PART OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

God is reviving His church, to restore it back to the church as described in the Book of Acts. This is a must watch video for those interested to know what God is doing at this time in the USA. People selling their homes and going as God leads, to make disciples as God instructed. The barriers of the institutional church are being broken down and true, John 17 unity is being restored. It is exciting to hear the testimonies of these transformed Christians. I hope you will be inspired to get in step with what the Holy Spirit is calling you to do in these last days before Jesus returns.

CHURCH AFTER COVID19

Most of you know what I believe God has already revealed to us in His Word about church. He initially set it up as described in the Book of Acts. Church was held in homes and small groups which is ideal for making disciples who in turn will make disciples. This is how church will be, once again, in the coming tribulation prior to Jesus return.

Phil Miglioratti • The #ReimagineFORUM Pray Network has provided a useful guide for church leaders to use post Covid19.

This guide is all about what God calls the church to do: disciple its members and impact its community with the Gospel.

Resist the temptation to merely reopen your church. Instead, reimagine how a church lives out faith, hope, and love in the shadow of a pandemic. Invite the Holy Spirit to take you (pastors, lead teams, affinity groups, congregations) on a journey of rethinking by:

  1. Assessing how the new normal impacts the calling and gifting of your congregation
  2. Blessing your constituents but also the diverse peoples in your community
  3. Confessing your fear and declaring your faith to move into the future

Make a fearless assessment of the new normal.

  • Have we made meaningful connections with every member? Attender?
  • Have we developed systems to identify practical needs of our families? Our community?
  • Are we identifying the degree of difficulty each person/family has experienced?
  • Have we surveyed our membership to know how to serve their:
    • Practical needs?
    • Emotional pains?
    • Spiritual status?
  • Gather (virtual, if not safe to meet in person) leadership to prayerfully discern:
    • Strengths – what new capabilities have we discovered in our people?
    • Weaknesses – in what ways has our ministry capacity decreased?
    • Opportunities – which needs or new options are we facing?
    • Resources – what undiscovered, unexpected resources have surfaced?
    • Risks/Rewards – have we counted the cost of making changes? Doing nothing?

Begin to daily ask for the mind of Christ so that you (personally but also with congregational ministers) discern how to reimagine how to develop:

  • Experiential worship
  • Enthusiastic (“in; theos/God”) fellowship
  • Equipped leadership
  • Extreme discipleship
  • Extravagant stewardship
  • Engaging citizenship

Pursue a Spirit-led, Scripture-fed journey. God always wants to move you on to a new level of service. Therefore, it should lead you to begin a new chapter of ministry. Your congregation or team may be called upon to make a radical change or to re-calibrate systems or reorient programs. Focus on Jesus. Fear less. Fear wisely. Follow Jesus… to the places where Almighty God is already at work; He is inviting you to serve in the power of the Holy Spirit. As you step out miracles will follow.

CHURCH NO LONGER THE AUTHORITY ON MORALITY AND ETHICS

Why is this so? No doubt it is the work of Satan who has undermined Scripture in the Body of Christ. With the teaching of evolution in our schools and universities as the origin of life and the universe, Satan has destroyed the foundational book of the Bible and it has led to cultural relativism and the denial of absolute truth.

It is in Genesis where we get answers to all the big questions of life: WHY, WHEN, WHERE & HOW. Answers to; why death and suffering, life’s meaning and purpose.

Bible colleges have swallowed the lie and tried to incorporate evolution and billions of years into Scripture. Once Genesis, the foundational book of the Bible was jettisoned, other portions of Scripture have followed, to the extent that God’s commands on marriage, homosexuality and gender are no longer considered good, in fact, are considered evil. In the main, it has turned our pastors into silent, timid shepherds who are afraid to touch any question that culture has deemed “political,” which includes almost all moral questions. 

It used to be that the Church was the authority on morality and ethics. Now, the clinical culture has said, these are political issues, and anyway, the Bible is full of errors, it is not the truth, so the Church has nothing to contribute.

Heresy is not only teachings that are wrong but includes deliberately omitting essential teachings. Carving out a portion of the Scripture and teaching that it does not apply and can be ignored today is a heresy. God’s Word provides the only true history of this planet. It is inerrant and the number of fulfilled prophecies demonstrate this truth. What’s going on today is just a new twist on an old practice, where people will cite a single passage of Scripture to make their case, and then ignore all the other scripture that speaks to that matter. And what some have done by fencing off a portion of the Old Testament is exactly that. And we must have the courage of our convictions to call it what it is, heresy.

God has raised up ministries such as http://www.creation.com and http://www.answersingenesis.com for such a time as this. If you need answers to the big questions on how to defend your faith then don’t hesitate to go to these sites.

We need to move forward with wisdom in the power of the Holy Spirit, we must understand that “darkness is the divine setup for light. Sickness is the divine setup for healing. The current crisis is the divine setup for the church to arise and shine and make a difference. We must seize the moment so that His Kingdom might come and we bring glory to God.

GOD IS PRUNING HIS CHURCH

More great wisdom from Francis Chan. Since Francis Chan walked away from the church he had in California boasting of over 5000 members I knew Francis was hearing from God. Church from then on for Francis was no more buildings, no paid pastors and accountability of all members.

God is using the coronavirus pandemic as a time to “prune the Church and cut off branches that aren’t bearing fruit,” ultimately allowing the Body of Christ to become more “fruitful,” according to popular speaker and author Francis Chan.

Chan, former teaching pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California, on Wednesday participated in the Q 2020 Virtual Summit, an annual event that equips Christian leaders to thoughtfully engage culture from a Christian worldview.

“I hear a lot of talk of people being concerned about whether their church is going to survive,” Chan, speaking via Livestream, told host Gabe Lyons. “The illustration I think of is, if I had a diamond right here, and I just smash it with a hammer, what would happen to that diamond? Nothing. If it’s a real diamond, if it shatters, it wasn’t real.”

He pointed out that in Matthew 16:18, Jesus says, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

“This is going to be a group that the gates of Hell can’t stand against,” Chan explained. “No virus, no government, no economic this or that, life, death, nothing. And so we as believers are supposed to trust the words of Jesus and go, ‘The Church is going to be fine. If anything, this is the time where God is going to prune the Church and cut off branches that aren’t bearing fruit, but it’s only going to become more fruitful.’”

“And so with that type of confidence, we have to move forward and go, what’s the worst thing that happened to me? I die and receive the award I’ve been … longing for my whole life. We can be fearless.”

Statistics from a recent Barna Group survey found that six to nine percent of pastors are unsure or not confident that their church will survive the coronavirus pandemic. Forty-two percent of pastors said giving was “significantly” down and 28 percent said it was “slightly” down. Only around a quarter said it stayed the same.

Additionally, nearly a quarter of American churches (22 percent) have already reduced staff hours, reduced compensation, or laid off employees.

In this unprecedented time of uncertainty, the Crazy Love author stressed that “God knew you and I were going to be alive at this time, adding: “We were literally made for this, prepared for this.”

SID ROTH GETS IT RIGHT: CHURCH! IT’S TIME TO REPENT

“The major mark of this next move of God’s Spirit is repentance,” Roth said. He urges Christians to use this time in quarantine to do two things: repent and pray in tongues “without ceasing.”

“I’m excited about the new beginnings God is giving the church, and it starts with us as individuals living in rapid repentance,” Roth said. “It flat doesn’t matter what’s going on in the world. It’s what’s going on with you. It’s, ‘Are you living in rapid repentance? Are you praying in tongues every moment you have?’ That’s what’s more important because all things work together for good if you are praying in tongues and living your repentant life.”

“I think this is God’s time to have believers operate in all of the promises of the New Testament. The truth is we know how to stand on the Word. We’re experts about that. But what about the power of God being manifested as we speak, that is what occurred for the early Christians as expressed in the Book of Acts, that is what we will see evident in the “last days” church.

Roth said that despite the chaos happening in the world, God’s glory is “erupting now” and the church will be invited to fulfil Jesus’ words in John 14 that his followers will do greater things than He.

“I believe many should set their day to operate in the glory because it’s not going to be a superstar movement. It’s going to be one where the church knows we already have a superstar. His name is Jesus or Yeshua, and it’s Yeshua in us the hope of glory.”