The rising waters on the church floodplain
When talking about the decline of the church I often use an analogy of hills on a flood plain. The rising waters are the general decline of the church. As the waters rise they consume the small hills. The small hills are unhealthy small Christian organizations or congregations. As the flood consumes these the organizations the people flee to much larger or healthier organizations. The bigger hills. The disillusioned are the people on the lower parts of the hills. They dissappear in the tide but the influx of people from the smaller hills replaces them. While large ministries have noticed that there is a little more activity as people come and go they are ignorant of the fact that the flood waters are rising. Without change the flood waters of our times will consume most of our institutions. Most institutions don’t have the courage to change until they are already half dead without enough people or money to support the old infrastructure.
I see this phenomenon working among the rural bible colleges. Lots of the smaller ones have disappeared in the last 10 years. Most have seen a general decline in enrollment. As one closes the other schools benefit but eventually it just isn’t enough to offset the decline.
The storm is coming. Ministries should stop thinking about how to build up and start thinking about how they can dig in. We wil have to go back to the basics, reconsider our assumptions, study the theology, and put our lives back on the alter. The discussion has to move beyond organizational change. Our problems are much deeper than how we do church.