In comments on a recent post, Martin Downes raised an important issue. We seem to be pretty adept at exposing the theological errors of others. But we are correspondingly inept at facing our own weaknesses.
I know that some, even many Reformed churches are vibrant and growing. But my impression is that the movement as a whole is inert and moribund. There are a number of matters that we need to face. I don't have all the answers, I'm not necessarily asking all the right questions. I would especially welcome your feedback on this post.
1) Lack of conversions
This is very basic. If people aren't being saved, are we doing the Great Commission? Why is it that we are failing to reach people around us? Are we failing to communicate the gospel in a contemporary way? Why do people find the thought of entering our buildings for services so off putting?
2) Fragmented and fractious
Reformed Christianity had been weakened by unnecessary controversy and strife. Is it not a crying shame that people will go to the barricades over Bible versions and hymn books? This state of affairs does not suggest that we are focused on the main task of proclaiming and embodying the gospel in our day. When believers will leave churches over such matters, is that a sign of principled spiritual maturity?
Have we sometimes failed to distinguish between peripheral traditions and Biblical Christianity? Are we so afraid of innovation and improvisation that we risk being stuck in some kind of time warp?
Is it right to go for change for change's sake, however divisive may be the outcome? Are we sometimes too quick to try the latest quick n' easy church growth fad? When that doesn't work we just get disillusioned and give up.
5) Strategic self denial
How many gifted people in their 20's to 50's would be willing to get involved in a small church to help turn things around? I know that there is safety in numbers etc. But small churches often need outside help to get off the ground. Are larger churches thinking strategically in this respect? Are smaller works willing to be helped to grow by believers with fresh ideas?
6) Lack of prayer
Why is it that people do not make the Prayer Meeting a priority, or when they turn up, they don't pray? Have we been driven to our knees by a concern for the glory of God in our age?
7) Powerless preaching
Every Sunday 100's of doctrinally accurate, well structured, interestingly illustrated and well applied sermons are preached. But where is the fruit in terms of the transforming power of the gospel?
I know that some might say that revival would be a panacea. We certainly need one. We should pray urgently and persistently for a powerful outpouring of the Spirit. But we might be surprised at the shape a fresh revival may take. Would we really welcome it? Anyway, evangelism, discipleship and innovation are not the enemies of revival. They are the things that we should be doing now in anticipation of a time of awakening.
Am I asking the right questions? What answers would you give?