No one would argue that the church in the US is not facing serious problems. Declining attendance. declining finances, aging congregations, a general mistrust of millennials towards religious institutions, divisions between and within denominations, and a general rejection of traditional biblical teachings by lawmakers and the courts have diluted the church's impact on society in the 21st century. Still, I believe there are exciting days ahead for the church.
The things that have had a negative impact on the church in recent decades teach us that doing church as usual isn't an option, and that's a good thing. The church had become too complacent over the years, and the problems facing the church has forced us out of that complacency.
Right now we are living in an in-between time. We may recognize that what we've been doing isn't working, but we still haven't identified what will work. We have more questions than answers. How do we reach the millennials who have little respect for organized religion? How do we present the Gospel to a postmodern culture that rejects absolute truth? How do we help Christians mature in their faith? How can the church respond biblically to the immigration issue that has so divided our nation? The same question can be asked about the racial divide that continues to plague our society. These are just the tip of the iceberg of all the questions the church needs to answer if it wants to have any sort of effective ministry to our society.
The questions are tough and so are the challenges facing the church, but I remain an optimist about the church for one very simple reason. Jesus said, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Mt. 16:18)" Although we may not know the answers to all our questions, He does. We may not know how to address the many challenges confronting the church, but He does. As the church seeks Him and allows Him to lead us, those answers will be revealed to us.
I'm convinced the church will look much different in the next few years than it does now. Some find that threatening, but I find it exciting. Those changes will enable the church to once again minister to an ever-changing culture. Just as Jesus Christ rose from the dead, the church will rise above its current struggles and once again become a light to the world pointing a lost world to the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is exciting!