In mainline Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian churches, we are seeing a constant and continual drop in church attendance. Something has got to change!
But when we look at evangelical churches, attendance tend either remain stable or are flourishing. What is the difference? What are evangelical churches doing that is different?
In relation to my previous post “Will evangelicalism decline or continue to expand?“, I noticed from an article from the UK newspaper “The Independent” that the evangelical church in the UK is now growing. [HatTip: Rachel Marszalek ]
“Church of England pews may be empty, but the fields of Somerset are rocking with a series of evangelical festivals this summer….. As the leaders of Britain’s more mainstream denominations scratch their heads and debate how to revitalise their congregations, evangelical Christianity in Britain is going from strength to strength. The number of evangelical churches in Britain has risen from 2047 to 2,719 since 1998 and their followers now make up 34 per cent of Anglicans, figures show.”
News like this in the UK is very encouraging. I can still remember constantly hearing about how the church in the UK was on the verge of dying but it has seemed to resurrected due to a revival in the evangelical/charismatic movement. For this, I’d like to say: “Praise God! God is on the move in the UK.”
Some might ponder if it’s just some gimmick. I have no doubt that there is no gimmick. I think mainline churches have a lot to learn from evangelical churches. Evangelical churches are simply more in tune with God’s clear sense of mission and evangelism than mainline churches. Evangelicals are clear in encouraging that every disciple should engage in personal evangelism. How evangelism is engaged may vary widely. Worship may also vary widely. Not all evangelical congregations use drums or electric guitars. Some are still in the stone age using organs, but the commonality is in the attitude of the believer: everyone is encouraged in the teaching and preaching to have a mindset of fulfilling God’s mission on earth. For some of you reading this, this is pretty old hat and may seem strange I’m talking about this like as if it was exciting and cutting-edge missional stuff. But for the old church world, evangelism is like a bad word.
The source of this mindset or attitude, I think, is the experience of God’s love. When believers experience the love of God in their lives in a spiritual way and also in a tangible way within the congregation, the Holy Spirit transforms the believer into a Christ-loving individual. When the individual loves the Lord God, one will understand the importance of sharing the love of Christ with others around them. This might translate into an engagement in some type of evangelistic activity, either on a personal level or congregational level. That’s how the gospel transforms people and an entire society.