Diminishing Returns

June 3, 2019
by John Stuart

Acts 2:41 – Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (NIV)

In the last twenty years, the Church of Scotland has sadly lost 40 percent of its membership. Britain is becoming more secular as each year passes. Despite trying to accommodate worldly and cultural views into its organization, the Church is diminishing. It appears that appeasing society is a big turnoff for the people of Scotland. In a desperate bid to be relevant, the Church of Scotland has become inessential and ineffective.

The church is meant to be radical, not relevant. It's supposed to promote the truth, not trivia. Apologetics is not about the church saying sorry to the world for being Christian; it's about the church feeling sorry for the world because people are not Christian. We have a message to proclaim and a mission to accomplish. Whenever we forget this or fail to live up to the Great Commission, the church diminishes, and congregations die.

Scotland is now a mission field. If the Church of Scotland truly wants to grow again, it has to stop pandering to the people and start proclaiming the gospel. That will involve a lot of courage and will challenge people's lifestyles all over Scotland, but if the next generation of Scots is going to become Christian, then ministers need to stop preaching what the masses want to hear and start prophetically proclaiming what God wants to be said.

Long ago, when Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost, he didn't hold anything back. His people were guilty of crucifying Christ, and they needed to repent. If Peter had sugar-coated the message, then perhaps, no one would have responded. Instead, he proclaimed the unpopular truth, and over three thousand people were baptized that day. It's a lesson that we should constantly keep before us. It's an act of courage that we should be continually espousing and evoking.

Point to ponder: How might these principles apply to my congregation or denomination?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant us the temerity to proclaim the gospel truthfully, no matter what it costs and however much it challenges us. We want the whole world to experience Your wonderful salvation, but we have grown timid about witnessing to Your way, truth, and life. Remind us that life is a test as well as a journey. Help us to grow Your church in our communities and countries, and across the entire planet. In Your holy name, we sincerely pray. Amen.

About the author:

John Stuart <traqair@aol.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    AMEN!


    Well said! Thanks.


    Amen and AMEN!!


    Well said, John, and so true.


    Thank you, John, for this important message.


    Oh, aren’t we all a mission field now for sure – a very relevant devotional.


    AMEN and AMEN!
    (Texas USA)


    Thank you for your devotionals always. Yes, we must ask for courage from God to stick to the truth.


    Now that’s what I call preaching! The kind that either makes you say, “Oh me!” or “Amen!” Thanks for writing.


    Well said, John! The only growing churches are those where the Gospel truth is proclaimed and practiced. Thanks for this bold devotional! Blessings.


    Amen John! Thanks for your devotional today. It is so sad that most of the mainline churches in North America and Europe are the same. We need another revival like the Welsh revival of 1904.


    Amen!
    Without the Word, the message is lost, and so often churches focus on, as you say, the popular entertainment theme. Well said, John.


    Truer words were never printed John. These days, anything goes. Heaven forbid we offend someone by expressing the truth.
    Blessings.


    Dear John Stuart,
    Once again, you say what we all need to hear.
    Thank you.
    Blessings.


    Hello John
    Thank you for your devotional today. Good one and good to think about.
    Sad what is happening to the churches but praying God will move in a mighty way such as in Acts!!
    God bless.


    John, l was just reading a Bible Study on Ephesians that was discussing this very same topic that you are presenting in your devotional. Thank you for sharing this message, as it is important that we hold steadfast in our Lord in a broken world and abide by His way and pass on the torch to the next generation. Blessings.


    Hello John,
    Thank you for another very mindful devotional. Yes, we need ever be witnessing and especially be a witness for our loving Saviour.
    Blessings to you.
    (B.C.)


    Hi John
    Life and Work from the C of S. has many good news stories about missional efforts, often in unlikely places. The same is true in Canada as can be read in the PCC ‘Presbyterian Connection’. God is still at work with us!
    Blessings.


    The world needs the gospel now more than ever! Jesus is my hope in a crazy world. My church needs to do more to help the poor. The good news is that we are opening a food bank in the fall! Mostly older adults will volunteer. Thank God for them. Thank you for the message today.
    (Manitoba Canada)


    Dear Mr. Stuart,
    Thank you for your devotional this morning. It says exactly what I have been thinking for quite some time. I would like to share with some of my friends as it is so appropriate to the times we are in.
    Thanks again.


    Dear John,
    Much appreciation for your stand up and take heed message. In this age of many truths, instead of God’s truth, many souls are in danger. The missionary field is open right within the walls of our own homes.


    Well said John. Now may the Lord grant His followers ALL IT TAKES to speak genuine TRUTH about Jesus Christ, the Good News, and our sinful human nature; and may those who hear be stung as they recognize the TRUTH – and turn to God and repent and “be saved” from that human condition called sin, against which we are helpless, without Christ. Bless you for your faithfulness – and may He bless your beautiful homeland. Amen.


    Hi John
    I understand your point
    And I’m not a Scot (I’m Canadian), so I am not in any way personally “offended” by what you say about the church in Scotland.
    However, why pick on Scotland, given the appalling condition of the evangelical church in the US, and the very sad way in which it has “lost its way”? I wonder if your concern might better be directed towards the state of the American church, and those who profess to follow Christ in your own adopted country.


    John,
    Again, you hit the ball out of the ballpark. (Not sure what the Scottish equivalent is of that!
    People go to church to connect with God and get away from the world for a time. When the church becomes worldly, why go?
    In the Catholic church, the nun orders that became modern have almost died out. They send out their pamphlets, asking for donations, looking like a bunch of aging social workers. Their numbers decrease and the young do not join their ranks.
    On the other hand, those nun orders that challenge the young to work a life of service for God, that put on the old habits (the “full” armor ~ Ephesians 6:10) are growing by leaps and bounds.
    There is a lesson here for all of us.
    Before we go out into the fields, we must start our day in prayer with God. Prayer and work do go together, but prayer must come first, then the work. As the 10 commandments start out with our duties to God before our duties to our father and mother and then our brothers and sisters, so we must put God first, and then everything else will fall in place.
    Keep pitching (or golfing!) and keep writing!
    God be with you and yours,
    (Texas)


    AMEN John!
    I try to do my part (at least in a small way when I see an opportunity) and of course, no one said it would be easy.
    My husband passed away this spring! Since then, so many people have tried to tell me ‘he is guiding me and with me still’… I respond that No, he isn’t “with me except in my memories” but I know the One who Is and that IS a blessing. Others tell me the cardinals that come to my bird feeder are really visitors from heaven… Nope! A bird is a bird… not him. The favourite of many seems to be he is watching over me. To that statement, I respond that I don’t think that would be ‘heaven’ if he could see the tears, pain and heartache our kids and I are experiencing and that I believe heaven is a totally different realm where the focus is on the Lord and not on things of this earth.
    It may not be the same as what you’re suggesting but at least it’s a start. A cardinal visited my bird feeder and I did give thanks to God for sending some of His beautiful creations to cheer me up”.
    At least it’s a beginning ‘step’. What bothers me is when a minister says at a funeral that the loved one is looking down and smiling! THAT makes me want to scream!


    I think the Covenanters must be whirling in their graves.


    Hi John,
    Thank you for your devotional. I agree with you that preaching the gospel is the only way for the church to survive, I don’t think gimmicks will do it. Just as an aside, in 1970 we got a big contract in England. I asked my contact person about the different churches in the town we were located and told him about our faith etc. etc. and his reply was “You won’t find England a very religious country.” I guess things have not improved there, nor here for that matter.
    Blessings.


    Hello John,
    I couldn’t agree more. What has happened to the Church of Scotland is tragic. They have lost track of the Way, the Truth and the Life and the rot has set in. It saddens me greatly but if they continue to try to be relevant and accommodate “the world”, the future doesn’t look good for them. I pray that their leaders would waken up and that their theological schools would get the message that has to be proclaimed with joy to the world.
    Thank you as always for your great devotional.
    Blessings.


    Excellent devotional. I’ve thought about what you said many times Keep writing.

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