About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Attendance Is Way Down
The Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation reports that only 17 percent of Canadians attend a regularly
scheduled weekly traditional church service, and this includes
Evangelical services. Of
this 17 percent, the majority attendees are older people.
Now that Iím 56 years old, Iím not quite sure when someone
actually becomes an older person. Anyway,
what do these statistics say about the future of the
institutional church, especially in
When I speak of the
traditional church Iím speaking of any church organization that
presently exists on many streets in
One direction, which
seems to me is quite popular, is to look at society around us to see
what is working in terms of organizational growth.
For example, we may observe the business world to see how it
sustains itself and grows. We
then take their principles of success and implement them into our church
life. If it works for
business, it should work for us, shouldnít it? This
pragmatic approach to church life is being used by many churches,
whether they realize it or not.
One of my
This direction is based
on the premise that the New Testament has something to say about church
life. Iím sure youíre
not surprised that this would be my choice of direction.
Of course if you donít view the Bible as inspired by God and
authentic then youíd disregard this direction.
But since most Evangelicals claim to believe in the doctrine of
inspiration or some variation thereof, itís only logical that
Evangelicals use the Biblical approach to church life instead of the
Wall Street Journalís approach for business. I
just donít know why we Evangelicals donít use the Biblical approach
if we esteem the Bible as Godís Word as we say we do?
If we do turn to the New
Testament for understanding, then from a Christian standpoint we are not
being pragmatic. We are not
simply doing things because they work but because they are right
according to the truth of Scripture.
Iím convinced that the
Bible views the church as a group of dedicated individual believers who
are joined together by the Holy Spirit and their association with Jesus.
The church isnít merely an organizational structure.
Pre-conversion Paul was dedicated to the success of the Jewish
hierarchical organizational structure and all that went along with it,
but after meeting Jesus He left that all behind and considered it all
rubbish. (Phil. 3:8) The
structure that Paul forsook was far from what God originally intended it
to be. Itís not that much
different for us today. I
donít believe that Jesus intended the church to be what it now is in
western culture. Paul
didnít teach that we merely exchange an old organizational structure
for a new one. He taught
that all things in life become new for us once we meet Jesus, church
The New Testament has
lots to say about church life, including, leadership, growth, structure,
and more. A quick reading of
Jesusí letters to the seven churches in Revelation will clearly show
how Jesus feels about church life. Iíll comment on this later.
Iíd suggest that if we donít do as Jesus wants, He
will do it for us, which according to Revelation isnít all that