Some months ago, a pastor friend of mine met with a family. They had decided that outward holiness was no longer necessary and church attendance was optional. They told him that they were spiritual people and had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ on their own. Their conclusion was that they no longer needed to be “under a man’s authority” and they were not interested in submitting to a regular service or worship schedule.
Philip Bump wrote in the Washington Post that this has become a 15-year trend. “The decline in church attendance has followed a decline in biblical belief.” Bump writes that Sunday worship services are somewhat sporadic while midweek attendance is almost nonexistent. Thom S. Rainer reported that “currently between 100 and 200 churches close per week in the U.S. alone.”
The Barna Group shows that while most Americans identify as a “Christian”, they do not believe in the same biblical values as their parents and grandparents. One researcher said, “Among Pentecostals, there has been a shift away from outward holiness, tithing, and Bible study. Even speaking in other tongues has become an elective, insomuch that the gift is rarely heard in their services. The change from the original tenets is so profound that it’s hard to tell if they were ever influenced by the former generation that taught them their beliefs.”
Paul wrote to the church in Galatia: Galatians 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:”
He asked, Galatians 5:7-9 “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”
This deviation from what was to what is has come at a great cost. Self-justification combined with an absence of prayer has created an abandonment to the very things that brought us the anointing. The Shekinah glory comes through sacrifice, obedience, and worship. However, I fear that many are living diluted lives; thinking that spiritual disciplines and holiness are nonessential.
I feel the Holy Spirit calling us to return to The Way. We must become more committed, not less. We need to find new ways to serve in the church at every level. It’s critical that we are devoted and not diverted. It’s paramount that we push aside offenses which separate us from this house of worship and plunge headlong toward faithful attendance, prayer, and worship. We must defy the statistics and become a light to our city. I urge you not to dismiss the teachings and tenets of this Apostolic truth. Moreover, I pray that we would not forget the great sacrifice made by those who gave it to us.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole