“So, what’s church like in America?”
It’s a question we’ve heard a lot in the weeks since our return from
furlough in the United States. And it’s a hard one to answer.
Since 2003, my wife and I have been part of a mission team serving
the Makua-Metto people in Mozambique, Africa. Our context here is
predominately Muslim; Protestant churches make up less than 1% of the
population. The Mozambican believers asking this question typically
worship with only a dozen or so people in their villages each Sunday, so
hearing about hundreds of Christians gathering regularly to praise God
is difficult to process. They smile in wonder; it sounds amazing and
But, this past year as our family traveled around the U.S., what my
wife and I sensed a lot of was tension and anxiety. It is common
knowledge now that Churches of Christ in America are in decline
and this recognition has left the church with some serious questions:
Didn’t we used to be the “fastest growing church” … Why aren’t we
growing like we did in the past? How should the church interact with a
culture that seems to be moving away from vestiges of a Christian
heritage? Why are so many of our children leaving the churches of their
youth? What do we do now? Which way do we turn?
There are a number of different ways to approach these questions.
Outlining the seven steps or five changes that churches should implement
could be a useful exercise, but it seems to me that what would actually
be most helpful for our fellowship as a whole would be finding a story
that helps us find our bearings in the present context.
And there’s a story from the history of God’s people that I believe is extremely relevant to American Churches of Christ today.
To read more check out my recent post at wineskins.org