Although church involvement was once a cornerstone of American life, according to studies by the Barna Group, less than half of Americans now believe church has any relevance to their lives.
Future looks bleak. Millennials (those 30 and under) stand out as least likely to value church attendance; only two in 10 believe it is important. And more than one-third of Millennial young adults (35%) are anti-church. Many observers note how the decline of Christianity in our culture has negatively impacted family life, morality in general and has eroded institutions such as education and politics.
Why isn’t the church getting it done? Jesus promised, “I have come to light a fire on the earth.” He meant his church would spread like fire. His tiny band of followers believed Him. There first order of business was get together and pray. For ten days they fellowshipped together and prayed fervently On the day of Pentecost, the flame of God’s Spirit fell on them. Ordinary people were energized with extraordinary courage, mutual love and spiritual power.
When they faced a crisis, prayer became the first resort. They got together and prayed together. And they always got results. They were a strong community, called koinonia, meaning they showed their love for Christ by their deep commitment helping each other, no matter the cost. Oh, and by the way, they weren’t embarrassed to tell others how Jesus had changed their lives.
Where has the fire gone? The fire of God’s Spirit hasn’t gone anywhere. But the Holy Spirit, fire, like any flame, requires oxygen and fuel.
Think of prayer as the oxygen. Today It isn’t too difficult getting folks to come out for studies and meetings. Where does praying together fit in? Typically it has become a formality and a ritual. There are, in every church I’ve attended over the last few decades, three times we do it . Of course prayer is offered Sunday morning, by the pastor, our designated prayer. We also pray together before meals, sometimes. We call this “grace.” I’m not sure why, exactly But be careful. If you are the designated grace-giver, keep it short. Aunt Tilly’s meat loaf might get cold and besides, we’re hungry.
A Word of Prayer. Other times we pray together are those brief minutes before or after a meeting. This ritual is often called “a word of prayer.” Where did that phrase comes from? It’s not in the Bible. Did somebody think it up to make sure the prayer is kept short? Anyway, “prayer requests” are frequently asked for, and then we end up praying for people we will never meet in Indiana. Oh, this ritual is also performed by a designated prayer.
What about Prayer Meetings? Prayer meetings? As Vinny would say, ferget about it! Getting people together to pray has gone the way of the eight-track and hula hoop. Yet we wonder, why the church isn’t getting it done?
Next time we will discuss community or koinonia. It’s the fuel needed for God’s Spirit to show up and stir things up. Please make a comment. That’s what helps us to know somebody is reading our stuff. Thanks.