We needn’t worry that the Church will die nor need we worry that Christianity will fade from history, as some are presently supposing (and some even hoping). Jesus is now and has always been the Lord of the Church. It is his body. And he promises that the Gates of Hell will never prevail against it. The future of Christianity is as secure as God’s own will.
We do, though, need to be concerned with the sorts of Christians we are presently forming and the sorts of Churches which will be left when we depart this life. What I mean, and I don’t mean to offend or upset anyone, but rather to warn and encourage, is that many Christian families are not developing Christian disciples. Children are being raised by people nominally Christian, who inhabit the fringes of faithfulness and the outskirts of commitment.
To be perfectly straightforward, many Christian parents are teaching their children to be devoted to virtually anything and everything more than to be devoted to Christ and his Church. Parents whose own parents would have never considered absenting themselves from Sunday morning worship are going to a whole range of activities outside of Church and they are doing it in droves. From sporting events to amusement parks to shopping trips to lake outings and to anything one can imagine, parents are slowly but surely teaching their children, unintentionally, that God can be second in life.
The consequences of this learned behavior are not hard to see, because they can be seen now. Many churches have seen a decline in attendance on Sunday morning and many more have seen an absolutely catastrophic abandonment of Sunday evening and Mid Week worship services. Indeed, many churches have discontinued either Sunday evening services or Mid Week services for lack of interest and participation.
It is not at all hard to see that many of the young people who do attend youth groups are happy enough to be there when an activity is ongoing but they are strangely (not really strangely at all, sadly) absent from worship services. This they learned from parents who thought it more important to chase the activities of the world rather than pursuing righteousness.
This portends poorly for the future of the local church, for it is not at all difficult to imagine that the young people today participating in nearly nothing but ‘activities’ will one day be adults who continue the absenting of self from the service of Worship. It is not at all hard to imagine a day, in the not too distant future, when marginally committed people raised by marginally committed parents, see it proper to dispense with worship every week and decide that once every two weeks or once a month is enough. It is not at all hard to imagine a future wherein real authentic discipleship is upheld by very few. We are already not far from it.
What’s the fix? Parents who take their commitment to Christ more seriously than they take any other commitment; be it to the ball team or the lake house visit or the multitude of things with which they fill their lives and the lives of their children. The Church can’t ‘fix’ the problem of disinterest in the things of God in an hour a week (or less) when parents have their child’s every non-school hour to teach something else. Help the Church you attend raise a generation of disciples. It really is up to you.