e-letter 6/1/18

I have hope for the future of the Church.

 

Now, you may say “No duh, preacher” to that statement. I am a pastor, so of course I have hope for the future of the Church. You may say I get paid to make those kind of statements. You may say my livelihood depends on it as a 29 year old pastor. But, I think in today’s culture that it can be so easy to be pessimistic about the future of the Church.

 

Looking at a Pew Research report from 2014, things may seem pretty grim. Just a few stats for you.

 

The percentage of U.S. Adults who say that religion is very important to their lives:

Silent Generation (born 1928-1945) 67%.

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) 59%.

Gen. X (born 1965-1980) 53%.

Older Millennials (born 1981-1989) 44%.

Younger Millennials (born 1990-1996) 38%.

 

The percentage of U.S. adults who say they believe in God with absolute certainty:

Silent Generation (born 1928-1945) 71%.

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) 69%.

Gen. X (born 1965-1980) 64%.

Older Millennials (born 1981-1989) 54%.

Younger Millennials (born 1990-1996) 50%.

 

The percentage of U.S. adults who attend services at least weekly:

Silent Generation (born 1928-1945) 51%.

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) 38%.

Gen. X (born 1965-1980) 34%.

Older Millennials (born 1981-1989) 27%.

Younger Millennials (born 1990-1996) 28%.

 

Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Rob, things don’t look so good. We are getting less religious, have forgotten God, and young people don’t go to church anymore. You better start checking out a new occupation!” (And to be honest, I have heard all of those comments way too often. Usually it is used a slight against people of my age and younger.)

 

Why in the world would I have hope for the future of the Church if these stats look like a downward spiral? Well, it’s because I believe in Jesus. (It’s okay to say, “no duh!”) I believe in Jesus and Jesus’ Church. I believe that God is not done with the Church, whether it’s in Suntree, Owensboro, or any other part of the world- I believe God is not done with the Church.

 

I often turn to Paul’s letter to the Hebrews when I find people are discouraged from attending church. (And usually- they come with very good reasons- and there’s plenty of reasons I can come up with to argue that we should just give up!) Somehow, I am still convicted, encouraged, and inspired by this passage.

 

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus,  by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh),  and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” -Hebrews 10:19-25 (NRSV)

 

I come to church because I need to be provoked to love other people. I come to church because I need to be provoked to do good deeds. I come to church to be encouraged by good, faithful people. I come to church to also provoke, encourage, and inspire others with Jesus’ love.

 

The U.S. Church may not be perfect. (Honestly, I believe it does have a lot of repenting to do! That’s an E-Letter for another day.) Suntree UMC may not be perfect. Truth is, we are a community of misfits who mess up, fail, and get things wrong from time to time. But, what holds us together is this new way of living brought into the world by Jesus Christ. We’ve heard stories of grace and forgiveness. We’ve experienced transformation. We’ve come to be a community who Loves God, Loves Each Other, and Loves Our Neighbors in Extraordinary Ways.

 

Why do I have hope for the future of the Church? Jesus. The love of Jesus will never fail. The love of Jesus is a story, a message, an experience that is unlike any other.

 

I’ll see you in church this Sunday as we continue our message series called, “Back to the Future.” This week we will be talking about the mission essentials of Worship and Grow. Read Hebrews 10:19-25 and John 15:1-11 before coming to worship.

 

Cheers!

Rob