Regardless of the name over the door, today’s churches have been experiencing a drop in attendance, and even more so since the COVID pandemic. Even the seeker-friendly churches have noticed a dip in attendance.
Governmental mandates caused many of the churches to close their doors during the lockdowns of the COVID episode of 2020-21. Even those who attended church somewhat regularly have found it easier to stay home than return to their church’s services. Now they spend time on the lake, in front of the TV, or elsewhere rather than go to church.
I admire pastors like John MacArthur, who refused to close the doors but instead obeyed the Lord. It’s a shame the majority of other pastors didn’t follow suit. I wonder where the churches would be today if those in the first century decided to “close their doors,” stay home, and let the government dictate when, where and how they were to worship? The churches in the first and second centuries defied the governmental authorities and met anyway, even at the peril of persecution and death.
It’s understandable that churches are concerned their numbers are down, but didn’t Jesus say, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them”? (Matthew 18:20). True followers of Christ have always been in the minority. It is recorded in the Gospel of John that many of Jesus’ disciples deserted Him, and so He asked the Twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” (John 6:67).
Jesus also said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37-39).
There still remains many good Bible-believing, Bible-teaching/preaching pastors throughout America. Unfortunately, they are in the minority, but again, Christ’s followers have always been in the minority. Also, even though apostasy reigns in the pulpits and pews of America, there still remains the true church built upon the Rock. Those few who remain true to the Lord and His Word simply must continue upon the road of:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Many often ask, “How can I make a difference? How can I go to all the nations?” We make a difference one person at a time, beginning in our own backyard; i.e., family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. When we each take care of our own “backyard,” God will do the rest. We must remember that we cannot save anyone, and we are not asked to do so. We are told by the Lord to be His messengers. The Holy Spirit will work on the hearts of those who will hear.
A strong local church is one that loves the Lord Jesus and knows and obeys His Word, regardless of what is happening in the world.
Some say we need a nationwide revival, and that we do. However, there is no mention of a mass revival for the days we are in, except in the Tribulation. Actually, the Lord tells us that instead of a mass revival, there will be a great apostasy in these last days. See 2 Timothy 3:1-9; 4:1-5.
The world will get worse and worse as it draws closer to the Tribulation, and that includes apostasy becoming worse and worse. That doesn’t mean that there can’t be small fires of revival here and there. As a nation, I see no revival happening, but Jesus will still save any who come to Him with a repentant heart, and He will “revive” any of his followers who want to actually live for Him.
When I open my Bible and then look at the world around me, “the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13) must be very close. The return of Jesus for His bride, the Church, is the next event on God’s calendar.
Now speaking specifically to pastors, I’m sure many today who truly want to follow the Lord’s will are very discouraged. As I mentioned earlier, there are still pastors who actually believe the Bible and teach/preach it as the Holy Spirit guides them. However, most pastors today are wolves among sheep or, at best, incompetent. They do not belong in the ministry.
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).
Paul told Timothy, “Preach the word!” He also told Titus to “… speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). In other words, pastors should be proclaiming all the Word, not just a few select verses, and they should be proclaiming them accurately.
I’ve always admired how J. Vernon McGee and others teach the entirety of the Bible, verse by verse. Jesus told Peter three times to feed His sheep. Many congregations of sheep are not being fed, or at the least, not properly fed. Instead, they receive tidbits instead of a complete meal. Others offer junk food instead of lasting nourishment. Still others speak a false gospel of lies.
Going back to Jesus’ words again to Peter to feed His sheep, every pastor should ask himself a few simple questions such as:
Am I feeding the Lord’s sheep? Am I serving meals from the entirety of God’s vast array of spiritual food in His precious Word? How is my prayer life? How much time am I spending in preparation of full course meals from the holy Word of God? Am I compromising God’s Word to comply with what the world wants to hear, or staying the course of “thus saith the Lord?”
We are all familiar with the phrase “peer pressure” in conjunction with teenagers, but can the same be true of pastors? It most certainly can and does exist. The Lord says to all who preach and/or teach God’s Word:
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:1-5).
Satan wants all of us, not just pastors, to get our eyes off God and stray from the truth and entirety of the Bible, but those who remain faithful will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” from the Master.
Continue in your faithfulness to Him, and let Him worry about the results.
Pre-Rapture Commentary: http://grant-phillips.blogspot.com
Rapture Ready: https://www.raptureready.com/featured/phillips/phillips.html