I posed this question – What can Restoration Movement Churches do to break the non-growth in membership of the past 40 years.
Brian Hughes of Horizon Church in Florida responded thoughtfully.
Based on the growing churches that I have visited, and materials that I have read based on this topic, I would say that we must be willing to give up our personal preferences for what reaches those who are far from Christ.
We have to find a way to close the gap between the lost and the one who saves the lost.
Most Important Question the Local Church Should Ask
Question: What stops most people from coming to know Christ?
Answer: It appears to me to be their perception of the church, and perceived religious requirements.
When we see churches with immense growth, many people’s first response is to criticize and claim some heretical stance on behalf of the growing church.
But what if it’s not that they are sacrificing truth and the gospel? What if they are simply giving up the things that are a preference to them so that they can man the gap?
Local Churches Take Radical Approach to Reaching the Lost
Many churches have been willing to do things that seem radical, by giving up things that have been considered staples in the church for as long as we can remember.
Many churches have become so deeply entrenched in tradition that there is no differentiation between tradition and biblical truth.
There are unspoken non-negotiables that cannot be infringed upon, which become loudly spoken non-negotiables when those traditions become threatened.
While those traditions may seem absolutely harmless, it appears that some of those same “sacred” traditions may very well be standing in the way of reaching the next generation.
What Are We Willing to Give Up?
The real question is, are we willing to give up those things that we so desire and enjoy (preferences, not biblical truth), for the sake of reaching those who have yet to have a real opportunity to hear the gospel?
And I mean the gospel, plain and simple, without all of the added requirements, added emphasis, political affiliations (on either side), and added preferences attached.
What if we truly could pull off our blinders of preference and see, in light of the scriptures, what it takes to reach a lost and dying generation?
How the Church Can Flourish Again
If we were able to, in unity, live as Christ unhindered in our current context, then I think we would see the Church flourish and grow just like it was designed to do.
But as long as the American Church is shackled by personal preference and unwilling to give up what we have today for what the next generation needs, it appears we will continue to blame culture and society for our demise, and continue to lose our voice in the public square.