During the past almost 40 years serving in full-time pastoral ministry, it would certainly be an understatement to say that things have changed drastically in our society. There's no need to elaborate on those changes or even to attempt to list them.
But, several years ago (2010), I recall hearing a few stunning statistics at a continuing education event that was held by our West Virginia Baptist Convention for some of our pastors and church leaders. If you're a Christian, this ought to shock you as well. In 1960, 75 to 80 percent of Americans surveyed said they attended church frequently. In 2010 that figure has dropped to just below 20 percent.
You don't have to be a genius to realize that there must surely be a connection between declining church attendance and the moral breakdown that has occurred during the past 50 years. We know there is a problem - the question is: what will we do about it?
The Bible is clear in pointing out that God is eager to revive His people. But we must seek Him in prayer. We must confess that we have not put the Lord first in our lives. We have neglected the spiritual disciplines of Bible study, meditation and regular worship. We have not shared our faith with our friends and neighbors because we fear they would be offended. We have not held our elected officials accountable by insisting that they hold true to the principles upon which this nation was founded. In short, we are reaping what we have sown.
In the Old Testament book of Hosea, we read that when God confronted Israel through this great prophet, He compared them to a wife cheating on her husband because they turned away from the one true God and worshiped idols instead. Yet God never stopped loving them and seeking their best.
In Chapter 10, verse 12, God declares "Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers righteousness on you."
Unless we heed those words, I fear that our nation may continue its rapid spiritual decline. Yes, Jesus has promised that He will build His Church and that nothing will destroy it. But, will the millions who have walked away for the past 50-plus years ever return?
Sisters and Brothers, let us pray for our nation, and for one another.
("From the Pulpit" is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)