When Hope Comes to Church

The reports can be discouraging. The statistics can be demoralizing. The trends can be disheartening.

Year after year we hear about the dismal state of American congregations. We hear that the number of members connected to churches is down. We hear about declining conversion rates. We hear about change-resistant churches and discouraged pastors, staff, and laity.

And the bad news is not made up. It’s reality. The overall macro-trends in churches in America are simply not that great.

Looking for Hope

What seems to be missing, however, in most of our reports of reality, is a message of hope. Though the situation may seem bleak, we serve the one true God who always gives hope. Local churches may be down and discouraged at times, but God is not done with His Church.

I am an obnoxious optimist about American churches. I do not have my head in the sand, and I am not ignoring the dismal reports. Indeed, I have authored some of those reports. But, in the final analysis, I believe that most of our churches have a great future with great possibilities.

The Reason for Hope

My hope first and foremost resides in our Lord Jesus Christ. And He is the reason I believe that the churches will prevail with great hope.

And almost every day I hear from a church leader or a church member who tells me something exciting about his or her church. I hear those stories. And I hear great hope. Listening to the stories reminds that God is still doing great works in so many of our churches. And I am instilled with hope and encouragement.

Listening to Your Story

I want to abbreviate this blog even more than usual. I am hoping that most of this blog will be completed with readers’ comments. I respectfully request you share some story of hope in your church. Let us know what great things are taking place. Share with us some stories that will remind us that God is still working in our churches.

Here are some questions to get the discussion started:

· What effective community ministries are taking place in your church?

· What are some examples of answered prayer in your church?

· How is your church reaching people with the gospel?

· How has your congregation become a part of reaching the nations for Christ?

· What is a recent story of someone who became a Christian through a ministry in your church?

· How are members in your church becoming more effective disciples?

· How are members in your church spending time in the Word?

· Do you have a brief story of someone whose life has recently been transformed by the gospel?

· What is your church doing to minister to widows or orphans?

· How are your church members demonstrating the love of Christ in your community and beyond?

· What are some examples of gospel unity in your church?

· What exciting prayer ministries are taking place in your church?

· How have families been impacted positively by the ministry of your church?

The list is obviously not exhaustive. The questions are merely starters for discussion. There could be countless other examples.

Please share with us some great things God is doing in your church. Let us hear your story and be both motivated and encouraged.

Let us hear your stories of hope.

What’s God doing in your church?

Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.