August 29, 2019
Volume 23, Number 28
Interest in religion has been on a sharp decline in England for the past several decades. One survey shows that only about 10% of those who identify as being Christians of any kind attend services at least once per month (it’s about 43% in the U.S.). Such findings have not gone unnoticed by officials of the Church of England.
The Rochester Cathedral in southern England, which dates back to 604 AD, has found a way to dramatically increase their attendance. In the nave of their cathedral they have installed a 9-hole miniature golf course. One of the officials there commented: “The cathedral is full of people playing adventure golf – it’s absolutely wonderful,” said Rachel Phillips. She noted that attendance is up 80% over the previous year.
It’s obvious many churches throughout the world have made adjustments to their offerings in the last couple of decades. England is not the only nation to be growing more secular, and some churches resort to unorthodox practices in order to attract crowds. Some succeed in drawing big numbers of people. But have they succeeded?
Jesus saw a scene somewhat akin to a modern flea market when He came to the temple in Jerusalem. Animals to be offered as sacrifices were sold (at inflated prices), and foreign currency could be exchanged for acceptable coinage (for a fee). As Jesus began to drive out these profiteers He declared, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of thieves” (Luke 19:46). The temple was a place for worship and prayer, not a place to extort profits, He said.
In another place Jesus spoke about the kind of worship His Father desires: “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23,24).
The focus of worship, Jesus said, is God. It’s not about what pleases us or what will draw big crowds. Worship must seek to please and honor God. And the only way we know what will please God is to hear what He says in His word.
So what do we do when numbers begin dropping off? Here’s what the apostle Paul wrote: “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:1,2). In other words, preach when it’s popular and when it isn’t.
We serve a timeless God who has made His will known. He doesn’t need us to advise Him on how to “do church”. Our task is to submit to His will and do what He directs.
Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.
~ ~ ~~~
Copyright, 2019, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).
“LightGrams” is produced by the Central Church of Christ, 2722 Oakland Avenue, Johnson City, Tennessee, 37601, and is written by Tim Hall, minister. It is sent free of charge every Thursday to all who request it. To subscribe or to receive more information, write to “Tim@GraceMine.org” (our E-mail address), to the U.S. mail address above, or call (423) 282-1571.
Permission to reproduce and/or use the messages for noncommercial purposes is freely granted provided the messages are not altered.