Statistics show conclusively that church membership in the United States is not keeping pace with population growth. Allowing for variations in the methods of ascertaining these figures and agreeing that church membership and the individual Christian’s spiritual health may be separate, still one may say that compared with the past, the rate of spiritual growth is not keeping up with the national birth rate.
That this is true in a country so richly favored by God and with so many churches and church activities should shock all of us into a willingness to take stock of our personal commitment to the Lord and our stewardship of the grace so richly given. Furthermore, it should cause the corporate church to take stock of her own faithfulness and stewardship.
Many causes for this decline will be brought forward. Some will insist that the Church has lost her influence because of her many divisions. They offer as the solution the “reuniting of Christendom,” with church merger after church merger—all with a concentric trend towards one great Church.
One wonders, though, whether the decline in ratio of church members to general population can rightly be blamed on the multiplicity of denominations. The average individual is little concerned about the organization of the church. In fact, he sees the church in terms of the Christians he meets and the personal and church-centered efforts to reach him as an individual.
Is it not axiomatic that the elemental impact and continuing influence of the Church depend, not on her organization, but on the messages from her pulpits and the dedication of those who claim the name of Christian?
Yet it is at this point that there is the greatest evasion today. There are many who for the sake of an outward ...1
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