For most churches that are declining, I believe the demographic they are most capable of reaching are people living in the 70s and 80s.
Don’t get me wrong, The 70s were cool!
– Music came in vinyl, cassette, and 8-track
– School lunches had a flexible definition of “healthy”
– Playing outdoors
– Riding your bike didn’t require extra equipment
– Family tv – by appointment
– Saturday morning cartoons & Schoolhouse Rock
– Video arcades
– Star Wars
– Bellbottoms, tie-dye and military surplus clothing
– The music
The 70s were also a great decade for the church in America with the Jesus movement and contemporary Christian music. The mindset was to keep us interested in church. It was the beginning of the seeker movement.
But what is our plumbline, our yardstick? The early church wasn’t perfect, but they are our roots and majored in the basics.
The first Christians had something to die for and live for!
But church has become a matter of convenience, of comfort. Not surprising. Life is all about convenience these days.
Dean Kelley in his book Why Conservative Churches Are Growing wrote that the appeal of religion was it gave “largest-scale meanings,” not simply feeding a homeless man or helping a neighbor, both which are very important. The first Christians had a faith that enabled them to face suffering and even death with confidence and hope, knowing they have purpose beyond themselves.
Dying for Jesus is something we can do once, at the end. Living for Jesus is something we do every day, setting aside ourselves, our wants, wishes and dreams for the awesome plans He has for us!
“I would never want to reach out someday with a soft, uncalloused hand-a hand never dirtied by serving-and shake the nail-pierced hand of Jesus.”Bill Hybels
The early church knew the importance of believing the best about one another.
1 Corinthians 13:7
But we have become cynical, even Christians – often of one another.
Faith believes God can reach the deepest need,
change the most arrogant mind and soften the hardest heart!
It has been said of the first Christians (based on Acts 2:44-45, 4:34-35), no one was satisfied with too much so long as anyone had too little.
We have become both connected and disconnected from the world we live in. The Old Testament prophet, Haggai, took Israel to task over living in their paneled houses while making the excuses of time against being involved in God’s work. Haggai 1:4
For the first Christians it was not enough to attend a church that ministers. They had to be involved in the ministering! In serving, missions, rolling up sleeves & taking out their wallets, meeting regularly
People are hurting! It’s time to reengage!
The early church had the attitude of Simon Peter: “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68
We have crafted our own hyper-individualistic Christian experience.
“Liberal mainline churches, on the other hand, had adapted heavily to modern secular thought. They rejected the concept of miracles, of being born again by the Spirit, of Jesus’ bodily resurrection, of a trustworthy Bible. They adopted…marks of a weakening community that cannot coalesce powerfully around a life of shared faith, meaning, forgiveness, love, and spiritual growth in God.“Tim Keller
Individually, we are doing the same thing and losing the power, the identity, the very essence of God from our lives!
The first Christians believed, and lived, as though they were the ones!