Church SitRep

Don Miller let it be known recently that he doesn't go to church much. See his confession here. From the comments and responses around the web, you might think he really hit a nerve. At first, it feels like you are in the dentist chair and the drill punctures through the tooth and goes right down into the bone, severing a nerve as the drill progresses. You feel it through your jaw into your brain and right down to the ends of your toes.

And how can we not be similarly affected when we read about dying churches, discouraged pastors, shrinking congregations, and the general lack of morale among evangelical churches?

When a respected best selling Christian author rejects singing and sermons as part of his Christian walk, many people take notice and scratch their heads and shout amen or no way.

There is a scene in the movie Midway where someone on the bridge of the carrier Yorktown calls down to the engine room and gives them a sitrep (situation report). The fires are under control on the topside or the flight deck. The other departments are making progress in the battle to stay afloat, so the report goes. This gives courage and conviction to the engine room crew. They will stay at their post and keep the engines going since they know that the ship is still sailing and has a mission.

It's the kind of thing that must have happened, even though we know the Yorktown sank a short while after that attack at Midway. I like the scene because it depicts what the state of readiness for battle was on the carrier. Everyone knew it was bad throughout the ship, but scuttlebutt was not enough to keep the ship going, the sailors needed information from the top to fortify them to stay strong.

That's the thing with scuttlebutt. It is often wholy or at least partially true. Rumors and gossip need to be believable and so they often start out with some truth. As they make their way around, they gain traction because of the emotional power they have to cause fear and destroy confidence. Before long, the ships scuttlebutt destroys confidence in the seaworthiness of the ship and thereby destroys it's mission readiness. At this point, a word from the captain or leaders on the bridge can make all the difference.

The more I read from Paul's story or the story of the seven churches in Revelation, the more I understand the word from the Top. There is a ton of scuttlebut, much of it truthful I admit, about the church today. It surrounds us online, the anxious voices of church members who want something done about their church, the silent chorus of pastors who throw up their hands in bewilderment about what to do for their churches, and the nearly constant writing about the churches failures.

Honestly, going to get a drink of water at the Scuttle Bucket has become depressing. After listening to the conversations at the water cooler, you would think the church is dead and buried, and God is to be praised for it.

Is that the state of the church today? Is that it's fate? Is there a word from the Top, from the heavenly bridge?

Don Miller doesn't go to church much. Millennials are leaving the church, so we've heard. Pastors are quitting every month. Attendance is down. You've heard the scuttlebutt. My question is have you heard from the Top?

The church is a God thing, just ask Paul who started a handful of them. He really gave his life to start them and he enlisted the help of a handful of younger servants as well who gave their lives. And yes, Jesus gave His life for the church. That statement maybe inflammatory in some minds, so be it. But He did.

I'm not going to finish this post with a list of texts that restore your confidence in the church. I'll leave that finish to you. Maybe at some point I will share my findings, but for now, I am just trying to ask you a simple question. Where do you get your State of the Church news from, the Top, or somewhere else? It makes a big difference.