Why The Church Is Losing Ground


Losing GroundI’ve found in my 35 years of ministry that spiritual conversations with the terminally ill never seem to focus on religiosity. Issues that we often assume are absolutely necessary to the Christian debate no longer appear to matter as those individuals and their families face their last days. They just want to talk about what it will be like to see Jesus.

Those hot topics such as: Calvinism vs. Arminianism; Republican vs. Democrat; Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism; Traditional vs. Contemporary; Conservative vs. Moderate; Mega-Church vs. Micro-Church; Connectional vs. Missional; and even Organ vs. Guitar are no longer relevant conversations. They just want to talk about what it will be like to see Jesus.

I know this is an overly simplistic illustration and solution for such a complex subject, but the Church is losing ground as we spend the majority of our time debating issues that in the end won’t really matter. I understand completely the value and even necessity of healthy biblical, theological and doctrinal debate. But when that debate takes precedence over talking about what it will be like to see Jesus, we will continue losing ground by missing those fleeting opportunities for meaningful conversations with a terminal world.


8 Responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Karl Ingersoll on 24.11.13 at 7:44 pm

    Agreed … totally. I am three years out of a 34 year run in local church ministry. I am not even sure the whole theological debate is all that important anymore. It would seem to me that debate carries the idea of winners and losers. understanding may be more vital. Being aware of the different ways that people see things is important and informative. Converting people to my way of thinking about the Bible is … unnecessary in my opinion.

    In the end we are all going to discover the error in our certainties. The incredibly important doctrines and creeds that have created approximately 41,000 different Christian denominations seem to be more divisive than anything else with no resolution in site.

    So … yes … focusing on what matters to God and our areas of agreement would be my choice. And to have it all grounded in what it means to walk it out on a daily basis … the struggles, questions, heartaches, victories … everything.

    Thanks for your post.

  2. Posted by Jeremie on 24.11.13 at 7:44 pm

    Interesting to see the church (Ecclessia) growing tremendously in certain parts where the summary of Jesus (Love the Lord and Love your neighbour) are the center pieces. They will know we are His disciples by the love we have for one another. Most religion divides as do stances on particular subjects. Can it be said that they will know we are christians by what church we go to or position we back rather than they will know we are Jesus’ disciples by the LOVE we have for one another.

    Another view is the church is actually making herself ready as in Rev. 19. I agree we lose ground when we focus on the wrong things.

  3. Posted by Doug on 24.11.13 at 7:44 pm

    David, do you personally seem to spend a lot of time debating what you define as these “hot topics”? Do you personally feel like *your* church is losing ground?

  4. Posted by EvangelismCoach.org on 24.11.13 at 7:44 pm

    I find that even when I engage with active seekers, many of these debates don’t come up. By keeping the focus on Jesus, and being a follower of Jesus, most of the people where I live don’t care about these internal debates.

    Maybe they will later, but as I think of a guy that I’m witnessing to now, none of these are on his radar. He is so unchurched that most of these debates are off the radar.


  5. Posted by Ralph Fudge on 24.11.13 at 7:44 pm

    Jesus asked if He would find faith on the earth when He returned. It seems He won’t find much, if people continue falling away as they have been recently. 80 % of Georgia, according to polls, are unchurched, yet we have hundreds of churches in every area of our state. I know people in their 70s who never respond to my constant invitations to attend church. They seem unconcerned about the most important things of all–their very souls. Apparently many have reached the “hardened heart” phase of their lives and can no longer be helped. It is a sad commentary.

  6. Posted by Friday Favorites: Nov. 23-29 « GARRICK D. CONNER on 24.11.13 at 7:44 pm

    [...] Why the Church Is Losing Ground (David Manner) [...]

  7. Posted by William Hooper on 24.11.13 at 7:44 pm

    We are losing ground in terms of helping people die. My ministry is nearly 100% with nursing homes, hospitals, hospice, etc. Part of that ministry is Bible teaching. I avoid theological controversies and stay on topics like love, assurance, forgiveness, etc.

    With a terminally ill person I focus on some basic questions: unconfessed sins that need confession, broken relationships that need mending, and assurance of salvation. When the end is near, and with family present, I thank God for the life of the person and the good memories we have. I pray that God will ease/or continue to ease the person’s pain, help the person to die easy, and to help the family in their grief. I ask God to give them his love, his peace, and his presence in the days ahead.

    One person with terminal cancer asked for anointing at the end. For her, that meant closure and healing. The other church staff members and I complied with her wish and she died easy in about a week.

  8. Posted by Jim on 24.11.13 at 7:44 pm

    William Hooper, that is a tough yet extremely important ministry! Keep it up!


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