Yesterday, I heard Dr. David Platt echo the words of Derek Webb and so many others by declaring that, statistically, our churches are losing relevancy by the day. The American church has never been so irrelevant to today’s culture. Congregations are not only generally more empty, they’re less impactful. America, it seems, no longer cares to hear about brimstone, they have their weights and wallets to worry about; they no longer need to hear about morality, Oprah instructs them on how to live; they no longer need grace, they never believed in sin.
I have to wonder… is Christ pruning the American church? It seems like the children of the simple pew-fillers of yesteryear now are thankful for that extra two hours of sleep each Sunday morning. Those who might have once sat in church, believing that they, well, believed, now make no such mistake. Going to church, save in a few small pockets across the South, is no longer the norm- it is a much more radical notion than it used to be. Maybe Christ is pruning away the branches of the American church to have a healthier core that is more apt to grow. If He is sovereign, which He is, doesn’t it make sense that He would be working even this for His and our good? That He was purifying and preparing His bride to receive Him even when it seems like His bride, at least in the Western world, is growing weaker?
Just as in pruning, where the excess is cut away so that the smaller, healthier bush can truly thrive and grow as it should, perhaps this is what God is doing to the American church. And what do we do in response? Beg for God to water and feed this mustard plant; reach out to the lost and dying world with every ounce of strength that we have; encourage, challenge, and rebuke one another in love; and wait patiently for the coming King.