Reaching out in a post-pandemic, post-Christian culture
Working from home, online shopping, curbside delivery, groceries delivered to your door, online courses, and online church all existed before the pandemic. They aren’t new but definitely more prevalent. The pandemic accelerated many trends that were already happening in our society. Another one of those trends was a decline in church attendance. Adherence to the Christian faith in North America has been on a steady decline for years as well. Some experts estimate that as many as 30% of pre-pandemic church attenders are not going to return and that 1 in 5 churches will close in the next 18 months. Some things will return, like eating out at restaurants, concerts, and travel, but sadly some will not.
Does this mean that Jesus and the church are irrelevant?! Absolutely not! We all know that the last 15 months have been very difficult for people. Many have experienced depression, loneliness, fear, isolation, relational difficulty, financial hardship, grief and loss, and more. The hope, peace, and new life that Jesus brings are desperately needed right now. God is still in the life-change business! In our experience, people are more receptive to the gospel when their life gets shaken up.
Because of the difficulty to be social with others over the past 15 months, our relational circles have shrunk and as a result, fewer opportunities to share our faith in natural ways have occurred. This is at a time when people desperately need it! So how do we bring that good news to hurting people? Over the next several weeks, we will lead you through a devotional series on the Gospel of John to help you focus on Jesus and his mission. We pray that God’s spirit kindles in you a fire to share your faith.
We also encourage you to read the book How to Talk About Jesus (Without Being THAT Guy) by Sam Chan. We will have a book discussion meet-up opportunities in mid-August.
Mission is not ours; mission is God's. Certainly, the mission of God is the prior reality out of which flows any mission that we get involved in. Or, as has been nicely put, it is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world but that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission-God's mission. - Missiologist Christopher J.H. Wright.
We hope you will join us on this four week devotional journey.
I would love to hear from you if you are doing these devos, reading the book, have questions, or would like to share a story, or anything else for that matter.
Blake Merwin (Associate Pastor for Outreach)