A God-centered Church

Vicki and I were blessed to hear Pastor James McDonald speak in St. Paul on Wednesday night as he kicked of his forty-city Vertical Church Tour. Sharing a very challenging message, Pastor James began his message by saying, “The Church in America is in trouble, and even though it’s in trouble the mentality among most people is I’m not going to change.”
He then went on to support his claim by sharing these statistics. 6000 churches close every year. 3500 people leave the church everyday (no, not transfer to another church—leave the church permanently). Only one out of ten Pastors make it to “retirement.” Only 20% of Americans regularly go to church (statistics show that 40% claim to attend church, but half of them admitted to lying about their church attendance). 800 new churches survive their birth every year; however, 9200 more churches could be birthed every year just to keep up with the population growth. And finally, only 10% of churches are growing (mostly because of member transfer), and actually only 2% are growing because of conversion.
He concluded his introduction by saying, “The church is failing America one life at a time” and the reason is because we have lost sight of the glory of God. Rather than keeping focused on our vertical relationship with God, the church has become consumed with gimmicks, warm fuzzy, Dr. Phil self-help talks, and a focus on personal comfort. We have become content with the “omnipresence” of God rather than his “manifest presence.”
Could that be true? Has American Reformed Church slipped into a program centered church, a personal need centered church, or are we a “God centered church”? Could it be that we have lost our fear of, and our longing for the manifest presence of God? What adjustments must we make in order for the Church to fulfill God’s intended purpose? Well, those are exactly the questions we are going to be addressing in our messages this fall along with a study of Henry Blackaby’s, A God Centered Church; Your Church Together Experiencing God.
So what can you do in advance? Begin by reserving your copy of one of the two study resources available. For those of you who like to do daily devotional workbook type study, sign up for the Your Church Together Experiencing God workbook. Or for those who would rather just read, I would encourage you to sign up for the A God Centered Church book. Both books have the same content, only one is for reading, the other is more engaging. And both are on the back table for you to look at in order to pick the one that fits your learning style best.
You may also continue thinking about hosting, or being part of, a small group that would parallel the messages on Sunday mornings. Small group DVD teaching materials are also available so make sure you sign up for those as well. More details will be coming, but in the mean time, please get signed up so we know how many books to order.
Are we really set on growing for Gods glory?  “Oh that [God] would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you” (Isaiah 64:1). May it always be true of American Reformed Church that we will never settle for less than living for the glory of God with a deep longing for his manifest Presence.
Soli deo Gloria,     Mike

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