The Rumors Of The Church’s Death Have Been Greatly Overstated

These days, it’s kinda cool to criticize the church. About once a week, a new, angsty memoir is released by someone who grew up in the church, had a series of bad experiences, left the church, and is now finding healing and/or catharsis in some different version of the church (Catholic, Episcopal, Eastern Orthodox, etc.). In their memoir, they inevitably talk about all the shortcomings of the church and all the things the church needs to be. The church needs to be less flashy, more welcoming, more community centered, more Bible-centered, more inviting to those are LGBTQI.

And, of course, a doomsday study is released every few months, indicating that the church is on the verge of being swallowed up by irrelevance.

  • A New Study Indicates That 98% Of Americans Are Raging Atheists
  • 77% of Christians Support Gay Marriage
  • 68% Of Evangelicals Are Secretly Catholic

You get the point.

If the church doesn’t adapt, it will die! The Millennials are leaving the church in droves! The church is falling apart! Marriage is on the rocks, the Bible is becoming irrelevant, and the family unit is being torn asunder! Doom! Angst! Fear-mongering! 

Does the church need to adapt and change in necessary and biblical ways? Sure. Does the church need to think carefully about cultural issues? Of course. But no matter how much you rant and rave and criticize the church, it’s not going anywhere. No matter how many studies Barna and his boys release, the church will continue to stand.

Since it’s inception, the church has always been falling apart and God has always been breathing life into it.

The Corinthian church was rife with division (1 Corinthians 3:2), sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 5:1), lawsuits (1 Corinthians 6:1), and idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14). The bloggers and memoir writers would have had a field day with the Corinthian church! The church was an absolute carnival of dysfunction.

And yet God continued to preserve his church.

The Galatian church was deserting the true gospel for a false gospel (Galatians 1:6). The Barna group would have released a study indicating that 75% of the Galatians preferred the false gospel to the true gospel.

And yet God continued to preserve his church.

The Colossians were getting hoodwinked by philosophy and empty deceit (Colossians 2:8). The Hebrews were in danger of drifting back to the old ways of Judaism (Hebrews 2:1). The churches in Asia Minor were being swayed by teachers who denied the divinity of Christ (1 John 2:22).

And yet God continued to preserve his church.

The gospel essentially disappeared for several hundred years while the Catholic church filled its treasuries with money gained from the sale of indulgences.

And yet God continued to preserve his church.

The church has survived the likes of Apollonius, Arius, Nestorius, Noetus, Marcion, Monatus, Pelagius Joseph Smith, Robert H. Schuler, and Benny Hinn.

Will Millennials continue to leave the church at an “alarming” rate? Probably. Will various denominations continue to abandon sound doctrine and make concessions to the culture? Sure. Will prosperity preachers like Joel Osteen and Creflo Dollar continue to sucker people in with their message of “Everything Is Awesome”? Yes. Will the Barna group release more surveys indicating that everything is going to pieces and the end is nigh? I suppose.

But the church will continue. Not because of its innovative new models or awesome new leaders. The church will survive because Jesus is firmly committed to the church. The church is his bride, and he will not let his bride slip away.

Jesus said:

I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it…

I’m pretty sure he intends to make good on those words.

Stephen Altrogge

I'm a husband, dad, writer, & Mixed Martial Arts Salsa Dancing Champion. I created The Blazing Center. I've also written some books which people seem to like.