Does your church feel as though it’s dying or bearing fruit?

How does your local church feel these days? Does it match your vision? Is it thriving as it lives out your mission? What strikes you as you gaze around on a Sunday morning or on a Wednesday evening? When I ask people how their church feels these days, I get a mixture of responses:

  • Older
  • Grayer
  • Smaller
  • Wearier
  • Two new young families
  • No youth director anymore
  • A new and caring pastor

People can claim they are trying to have the excitement and vitality of a bygone day, but they notice many of the faithful friends of their congregation are (often like themselves) feeling their age. They often remark to me, “We need more young families!”  Some local churches are in neighborhoods with abundant housing affordable to young families, but others expect young families to drive to them and lend their energy to bring the church up to its thriving level of the 50’s-70’s.

But think now, how does a local church bear much fruit? It may indeed be with a set of programs aimed at young families and youth.  But it might flourish in other ways that don’t photograph like a filled Sunday School classroom.  How does your church equip its people to live lives of faith in their daily work life?  How do the folks at your church experience the wonderful and miraculous power of God on a Monday morning or a Thursday afternoon? How do they practice Dwelling in the World so that they feel the warmth of God’s creating and redeeming work in the world they inhabit? And how does your church encourage them to come together in worship and fellowship and share what they have seen? For isn’t this also a vision for the church’s mission in the world? To see God at work and help that work bear much fruit?

Pat Taylor Ellison

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