Why I’m Not Giving Up on the Church


In 2013, nearly ten years ago, I wrote this article for Relevant about the church. In light of our “Reset” series and Ruth Carver’s recent message, I think this article is still as pertinent as ever. It begins this way, but you can read the entire article here.

In 2011 the largest denomination in the United States, the Southern Baptist Convention, announced the results of a survey showing a significant decline in baptisms and church membership. Ed Stetzer, a missioligist and researcher with Lifeway Research, commented at the time: “This is not a blip. This is a trend. And the trend is one of decline.”

In the very same year, across the Atlantic, a report on the Church of England highlighted the challenges it was facing: aging congregations, faltering clergy recruitment and waning attendance. While church leaders used words like “crisis” and “time bomb,” the report predicted the church would likely be extinct within 20 years.

More recently, the Pew Research Center released a study on the state of religion in the United States entitled “‘Nones’ on the Rise.” The study brings into focus the increasing growth rate of those who do not identify with any religion at all. Nearly one-fifth of the U.S. adult population—and one-third of those under the age of 30—identify in this way; an increase from 15 percent just 5 years earlier.

For many people, these are signs that the church is, if not already dead, steadily moving toward the grave. And many have been calling for followers of Jesus to return to the original vision for our faith.

I have lived within the inner workings of the church for the past 15 years, and I will be one the first to agree with many who point out that the Church is full of brokenness.

When you stand on the inside of the church, you see the good, the bad and the ugly. I have been disheartened by the hypocrisy within the leadership of churches. I have experienced disillusionment when it seems like the church is more about ‘nickels and noses’ then it is about real life transformation. To be even more honest, I have seen my own failings and weaknesses as a supposed leader and wondered if this thing called church is truly real or worth it. There are times when I have wanted to give up on the church and ministry altogether.

But I’m not ready to sound the death toll for the Church. Here’s a story to tell you why.

[Read the entire article here.]

A Reset on Meeting Together

This past weekend at Eastbrook, as we continued our four-week preaching series entitled “Reset,” Pastor Ruth Carver spoke about the first part of Hebrews 10:24-25: “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.” There is much more going on at Eastbrook during this four weeks than a preaching series, so let me encourage you to find out more here.

You can find the message outline and video below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.

Gathering Together to Worship 

  • In the OT
    • God’s idea, God’s command 
    • Festivals at temple in Jerusalem
    • Psalm 100, the reset psalm
    • Synagogues
  • In the NT
    • Jesus’ insistence on it
      • “Wherever 2 or 3 of you are gathered…” (Mt 18:20)
      • “I will build my church…” (Mt 16:18b)
      • Institution of the Lord’s Supper
    • Early Christian gatherings
      • In addition to synagogue gatherings
      • House churches

Hebrews passage – Some Christians Gave Up Meeting Together

  • Recipients probably Jewish Christians in Rome
  • The fires of Rome (64 AD)
  • Nero’s making Christians the scapegoats
  • Danger of abandoning the Christian faith

Why We Need to Gather to Worship in Person Today 

  • Because we are in spiritual danger
  • Because it pleases God
  • Because the physical presence of other Christians is God’s gift to us

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:

  • Watch “The Public Reading of Scripture” by The Bible Project.
  • Look into these passages about gathering in the church:
    • Psalm 122 
    • 1 Peter 2:9
    • Matthew 18:19-20
    • 1 Timothy 4:13
    • 1 Corinthians 14:26-33
  • Memorize Psalm 100