Have you ever sung that song in Sunday school that goes like this, “Here is the Church, here is the steeple, open the doors and there’s all the people?” I used to sing that song all the time. We had the motions down perfectly and yet, as I grew older and began to understand a little more about our culture, I realized that perhaps there aren’t as many people as I thought there were in the Church. In fact, studies and polls tell us that there has been a significant decline in most churches around the U.S. for some time now and it is projected to get a lot worse.
It blows my mind that Billy Graham has spoken to 200 + million people throughout his ministry thus far. I believe God has brought him to this earth to preach the Gospel and has used him for many significant and important endeavors. Where are the people though who came to know Christ through the ministry of Billy Graham? Where are the 15,000 people who gave their life to Christ when I went to his meeting in 1991? I don’t know – and apparently the Church doesn’t know either, which is a big problem.
With events like 9/11 and others, our churches experienced a huge increase of people who were searching for answers about life and death. They were looking for comfort and for a place to find something real – both in a community and in God. Where are they now? Why have many of them fled the church? Have they received the answers they are looking for or have they left in disappointment because the church, rather than using this opportunity to bless the unbelievers and wayward Christians to The Ultimate Healer, used that time instead to press their own agendas about financial giving and becoming members for their local community? How many people are still walking around attempting to fill a void in their lives due to the confusion and complexity of life?
I don’t know how many lost people there are who have had their interaction with the Church in the past. I wish I could throw out a conservative number of people who are desperate to hear good news and experience a hope they have never experienced before. If I knew how many, I think I would somehow attempt to reach them all, if it were actually possible.
I write this small post to make an important statement: We are the body of Christ – the Church. And, in a lot of ways, we have failed to shine as a light to those who are searching for Jesus. We have missed great opportunities to bless the world and those around us with the Truth of Jesus because we have inflicted our agendas instead of being who we are called to be. We however are given grace by God to attempt once again to get it right. And – to be extremely honest – we need to get it right. We need to step into the body of Christ and love people and show them Jesus. I hope my children will learn that simple song one day and it will be the truth. I hope many people will be in the Church – the body of Christ. It would stink if we had to change the words to, “Here is the Church, here is the steeple, open the door – where’s all the people?”