Before beginning, let me make one thing abundantly clear: the Church of Jesus Christ will never be defeated. No matter what Satan throws at her, God’s Church will weather the storm and come out victorious (Matthew 16:18). To my knowledge, no war has ever been a unanimous victory. Even on the winning side, battles and lives will be lost.
In the same way, it may appear the Church loses some battles—even though we know God is in control of everything so even an apparent loss is useful to Him in leading His bride to victory—the Church will not lose the war, will never stay knocked down, and in the end will stand. With all that said, I submit the Church is in trouble today.
As recently as twenty years ago, the church seemed unassailable. Even those who did not profess faith in Christ generally maintained a modicum of respect for the church and its leaders. Fast forward to today, and the Church is in the crosshairs every day. A lower percentage of people are attending churches than at any other point in American history, and even those who are attending are doing so in churches more concerned with increasing their numbers and capitulating to the culture than they are in equipping saints to fight the spiritual battles of our day. Many leading pastors are doing everything they can to distance themselves from Biblical truth and even deny that the Bible matters at all! Yes, the Church is in trouble.
There are still God-fearing, God-honoring churches, but they are becoming fewer and further between. I live just north of the traditional Bible Belt in America, so there is no shortage of churches nearby. What there is a shortage of is churches that will simply preach the Gospel, expound it Biblically, and refuse to compromise with the sin our culture insists on calling good and normal. There is a shortage of churches where those who attend give any sense of reverence and respect for the time set aside to gather as one body and worship our awesome God.
A typical Sunday in a typical church finds a typical preacher doing scriptural gymnastics to show you how the Bible is all about you and your happiness. I’m looking for a new church, so I’m visiting churches of all different sizes and leanings. The common thread is not one of Biblical fidelity but of self-help and feel good nonsense. The church is in trouble.
So how do we, as disciples of Jesus, respond when the church is in trouble? First—and you knew this was coming—pray! Ask the Lord to turn the hearts of His people back to Him. Second, dig into the Bible like never before. Open it, read it, study it, and take copious notes. Get so into the Bible that it pours back out of you. If the local church is not helping you grow in your walk with Christ, if they aren’t preparing you for the persecution that is coming, find external pastors and resources that will help you along the way.
What you shouldn’t do is violate scripture and walk away from the Church (Hebrews 10:24-25). Even if you can only find two or three to gather, do not stop meeting together (Matthew 18:20). We need each other for strength and encouragement. The church is in trouble, but hope is not lost. Jesus is King, and the Church is His bride. We will reign together forever with our Lord. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, but hold fast to your faith in the only One worthy of our trust and worship. Deepen your relationship with Him and rest in the assurance of knowing the ultimate victory is ours through Christ.