Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder"1 (Lyrics)
Many of the Protestant churches in our area are struggling. It is a matter of grave concern to many of us. There are discussions and workshops; there is talk of amalgamation and re-alignment; there is even talk of closing some of the churches which cannot continue under the present circumstances. There is a lack of attendance, and as a consequence, a lack of funds. In many cases, the situation appears to be desperate. Most of the worshippers are elderly; there are few young families, teenagers, or children. Many people say, "When this generation is gone, we are finished; there is no hope; the church as we now know it will disappear." And indeed, it is a big problem facing many churches at the present time. There are so many people outside of the church who are just not interested. It seems that they do not have the need to believe or to worship.
This is not a new situation. According to the Bible, the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah struggled with this as well. Jeremiah was so distraught that he wished he were dead. Isaiah prophesied, "You will hear but never understand. You will see but never know what you are seeing." (Isaiah 6:9 NIRV) It seems that the people at that time were not interested in worshipping God either. Isaiah compared the people of Judah to a forest cut down, just "stumps" (Isaiah 6:13) showing — no visible life left at all.
We have a creek behind our house, and some years ago, there used to be a fair number of beavers making their homes there. They cut down trees on our property to build their dams and lodges. They hauled the trees and branches away, and the only things left were the stumps sticking up out of the ground. At first sight, these appeared to be dead, but as time went on, new shoots came out of these seemingly dead stumps, and new trees grew. The roots were still there; there was life after all.
And so it is with our churches. It may seem that they are on the brink of disappearing — some of them — but the roots of faith are there. The years spent bringing the gospel of Jesus were not wasted, and at some point, new growth will show. There is hope indeed, and with faith, we do continue on.
After all, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV) If we keep on continuing on, our work is not in vain. I'm sure of it.
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we pray for Your churches in various places, especially those places where people are struggling to keep going and those places where people are being persecuted for Your name's sake. We pray that You will bless us, and that a change will come about. We offer this prayer in Jesus' name. Amen.
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A good and sober reminder Joel. But the good news: the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church.
You have given me new hope, Joel. At 90 I probably will not see it happen. All I can do is pray that it WILL.
Dear Joel, Have faith, pray, believe and God will look after us. We were having many concerns for our congregation a year ago and now we are alive again. Praise God! Bless you.
Yes Joel, you are right. The Lord will always protect “the remnant.” Where the true Gospel is observed and the Bible read with spiritual eyes, the Church of Jesus Christ will continue to thrive until He comes to claim His own. Blessings on your day. Thanks for sharing.
Good morning Joel,
A good meditation. Thanks for contributing.
I like the way you reminded us of Isaiah and Jeremiah.
Indeed, many of our churches are in declining positions; the reminder of the roots gives hope.
Our hope is to be found in the Lord!
A very real issue in the church. I read an article in the record about churches that are no longer defining themselves by the age and size of their congregation. Interesting. Guess we just have to keep listening to and relying on God’s wisdom as to what is next, and to have the courage to move in whatever direction the Spirit moves us. Certainly a worthwhile discussion at this time. Thanks for addressing it.
Praise God, He is still on the throne and His kingdom will never end!!
Thanks for your devotional this morning. It’s always darkest before the dawn. Let us pray that a new day will dawn and that God will make His presence known in a powerful way that will bring many to find Him as Saviour and Lord!
God bless you.
I enjoyed your devotional thoughts this morning. It reminded me of a book I read a number of years ago “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire” by Jim Cymbala. When he took over his church as a young man there were only a handful of people. The book tells the story of the Brooklyn Tabernacle in N.Y. I found it encouraging.
Thank you for contributing to the devotionals, I love reading them first thing in the morning.
My prayers are with you, that God by His blessed Holy Spirit, would cause one last revival through out the world. That He may rekindle the hearts of many to go forward with the gospel of His son Jesus. The need is great here in the US. May our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen you in body, soul and spirit for His glory, and your comfort.
Thank you for another thoughtful devotion. Our ranch is located in Texas, part of the Bible Belt in the USA, near a small town (3500). The mainline churches are an important part of our community, but there is a large part of this world who seem disinterested in Christ and his church. It seems to me that this situation is not different than it has been throughout history and we are still here. To attend worship is not longer a social necessity as it was in the past in our country. I am banking on the faithfulness of the group of believers (however small or large) to persevere and allow the church of Christ to move forward.
Dear Joel, I am sorry to hear church attendance is low. Our church closed it’s doors several years ago. But people just went to a different, higher attended church, one that was more up beat and less traditional. When the cloth of food appeared to Peter in his vision, that is was now okay to eat whatever! I think a lot of the frills and traditions of church ways need to be dropped and more obviously, that it is not traditions that work us into heaven, it is faith in Christ, the Son of God, born of a virgin, died on the cross, and rose again. Bells and whistles sometimes get in the way. I may be wrong, but in a beautiful gothic church not long ago, with a pastor bedazzeled with special robes and hat, he gave a story to the children, as they sat of the steps in front of the church, but he forgot salvation. It was a cute moment with children. That was all. Because he left out the reason we go to church, to find the peace of God through salvation.
I’m not meaning to be offensive. This is just an observation, and I have been know to be very off the mark before, and then again very precise.
We love you and will pray for guidance.
Good Morning Joel:
A message of concern for we who are full time servants of the Lord and watch our beautiful faith families seem to fall away from the teachings of their forefathers.
I personally feel much of this disarray falls on, we, the parents of the 50’s and 60’s. We were the ones who thought now that the war was over and everything seemed pretty rosy and safe it was ok to forsake the chruch and the Lord and take our little ones to hockey, basketball, baseball, etc., each Sunday morning and allow our dear little children to miss the blessing of Sunday School and church.
Over and over again, I shook my head and predicted exactly what has befallen upon us.
Roman Catholic’s replaced their Sunday Morning mass for mass on Saturday evening so their kids could run off and enjoy the sports of this world and leave behind the disciplined life they knew, which was to attend church each Sunday.
We the family of the holy catholic church took our children away from the worship service all together and allowed our children to totally miss church and be involved in the activities of the day, (Sunday) receiving no Christian teaching or guidance week after week.
Woe is me… We have so much to account for and it is all coming back to haunt us when we see church after church closing it’s doors and the selling of their beautiful buildings over and over again, only to become dance halls, museums, entertainment centers and in some cases homes for farm animals. God must shake His head and feel a great deal of sorrow because of our actions.
But, Alas, like you assured us, those of us with faith must continue. We must never forget God’s word will not fail, and there will be a devastation that will drive us, once again, to our knees causing us to call for mercy unto He who is the Lord of Mercy.
This was a powerful message and made me realize how guilty we are of the situation now before us.
So true, we need to have faith for new growth, thank you! Hope all is well
with you and Greta.
Amen Joel, without God’s love we cannot have faith or hope, but because we do have His love we know all things are possible and He has promised that His word will not return null and void.
Thank you so much for your devotional. You have described much of what our previous church went through.
You really got me thinking about how happy I am to be at a church that wants to minister to those outside the doors.
Dear Joel Jongkind,
Such a great message, well-constructed.
May God bless you as you preach the gospel and be a part of the renewal of the “faith of our fathers.”
May God give us his unction to effect our gumption.
Thanks for today’s devotional. Our congregation is going through a tough time right now and I think your words would be of great comfort. I will share this article with our congregation.
I was part of one of those churches that had to sell their building because the few people that were left could not afford to keep it. We have amalgamated with another denomination and we are now a full church again. You see, the church is not the building, but the people. God is indeed amazing and creating a brand new church. It is said that when God closes a door, He opens a window. I truly believe that changes are occurring, by the grace of God and will continue until we all worship as “One in Christ”.
Your tree-stumps analogy in today’s devotional may not be correct.
There are very vibrant churches. Maybe the old way that appeals to the “comfortable pew” older generation is coming to an end. This “electronic generation” wants the Gospel their way. And not in a dull and dry way the older generation is used to.
There may be tree stumps, but this younger generation is planting and nurturing their own forest.
Thank you Joel for your thoughts in today’s devotional. I have on my desk a picture of a stump on the farm I was raised on. I use it as an illustration. Out of that stump is new growth, so your words were so meaningful. I have faith that people who do not know Christ or do not know the full meaning of worshiping in a corporate place with other Christians that they will come to an understanding that they need God in their lives. When my mother was in Chronic Care she would often come in and out of a coma and say: “I don’t know how people can get along without God!” That was God speaking to me through her and that is why I am God’s servant in the church today. I made a decision to commit my life to Christ fully and he has called me to this wonderful ministry to his people. Thank you again for the reminder…even clergy need to be reminded. Have a blessed God-filled day! Enjoy the “Sonshine.”
I wish I could be as hopeful as you are. I am afraid the Church as we know it will disappear.
Here in Eastern Ontario we have so many other things that people put before attending Church – Sunday shopping, hockey, baseball, walks for charity, art workshops etc.
We Christians need to stand up and say why can you not give one hour per week to worship?