Our family has gone on a few vacations together. For the most part, we don’t get too far from home, but we do enjoy getting out of town every now and then. Have you ever noticed the types of places we plan to go for vacation? They’re usually tropical, warm destinations. Disney World. Disney Land. Sea World. Bahamas. Jamaica. A cruise. The beach. Depending on your vacation, you will look for places to tour. You might be a family that likes to walk around a historical museum or location. Seeing a statue that was built in memory of someone can be a lot of fun. We plan to go somewhere that we can tour and see things that we can’t see at home.
Want to know what one of the tourist stops in the United Kingdom is? A church like this one near Exminster in Great Britain. It is the Church of St. Martin and it dates back to the 14th Century. You can even go online here and research much of the data on the church. For instance, the history tells us about the Parish registers, dating back to 1562. They even have published indexes covering baptisms, weddings, burials and christenings.
As our family was driving through one small town in Missouri, we stopped at a little park to have a picnic lunch. Vacations on a budget is how we roll. We sat eating our lunch and noticed a cute little building on the park grounds. It sure looked like a church. A really old church. My wife wanted some pictures before we left town. We started to walk around the building and we saw a sign in the front. It was the town museum, formerly a church. It had been remade to show off town history along with much of the history of the church. It didn’t date back to 1562, but it was still a very old church building.
In terms of “religion,” the western world is following suit with much of that of Europe. As Europe has moved away from Christianity, much of America is doing the same. We could answer the question, “Are you a Christian” with the answer, “Yes,” while at the same time answering the question, “Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God” with the answer, “No.” Simply stated, the church in America is dying. More churches die per year than we replace with new churches. According to one article I read, we need to plant 2900 more churches a year just to keep up with the population growth.
Let me say it this way, America has decided it no longer needs the church. The church is no longer the center for spiritual needs to be met. As Europe left the church behind, America is following close behind.
A very sad possibility is ahead of us. That possibility is that churches could feasibly become tourist locations in America.
I for one, am not ready to concede. I for one, am not ready to turn our churches over to the tourist industry. The question is, how far are we willing to go to stop the bleeding?
How much are we willing to sacrifice to make the church of God thrive again?
Are we willing to engage the culture in new and risky ways?
I would like to share more on that question in a future post. In the meantime, what are some of your thoughts?
How is your church engaging the culture around you in fresh ways?
What are some of your ideas for engaging the culture so that we don’t become a tourist attraction in America?
What do you think some of the key contributing factors are to this decline in the church in America?
Posted on 08/25/2010, in church, church planting, evangelism, God, leadership, missional communities, missionary, outreach, resources, the basics, the culture, the nation, worldview. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.