Summary: More and more people are leaving local institutional churches and pick and choose their spiritual diet on social media. Evangelism, and belonging to a local body of believers is on the increasing decline!
When the smallest cell in the body is under attack,
it brings the demise of the whole.
For as long as I can remember, there has always been a tension between the local church pastor and the staff of parachurch organisations. Parachurch organisasions work outside and across denominations to engage in social welfare and evangelism. My battle has been that I sit in both chairs. I am leading a parachurch national initiative beneficial to the greater body of Christ, and I am also the pastor of a local church.
I have been part of various efforts over the last 27 years of ministry, who with great difficulty and variable success lobbied to get all local churches to work together. I thus understand the frustration of trying to work with pastors. But why do we need to work together in a location? The truth is; one local assembly can’t foster all the support and mobilise all the different types of ministries available to the Body of Christ in one locality. We need each other.
None of us have it all together but together we have it all. Michael Wood
The body of Christ is made up of individual cells (1 Cor 6:19), the local assemblies (2 Cor 6:16), and the universal Church (1 Cor 3:16). When any part of this 3fold molecular structure is sick, or in isolation, the body is weakened. It is also clear that like our physical bodies, we have to discern the complexity of the diversity of the various functions and parts of the body of Christ. We cannot reduce the body to only one part or function. All of it is important and necessary! There is thus no inside and another outside part! Whether we’re part of a local general geographic assembly or part of a group of people who meet to focus on one specific human need, we are all meeting together under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Remove the religious dualism between vocations as worship for His glory in the secular market place, and vocations seen as a ministry to another within the Church and your vision is suddenly expanded to a glorious network of diverse functions, that can only be God’s genius! All the individuals, meetings at all locations, for various ministry purposes are all called to be His holy Priesthood, a holy Nation, His bride to be. That is the picture on the puzzle-box, perspective! It is wonderful! Each piece of the body of Christ has an exact shape and creational purpose, like puzzle pieces. Toss all the pieces on a table, and it looks terrible!
The state of the local Church as single pieces? Endangered! Paralysed! Under resourced! Poorly trained! Fragmented! We all tend to make unclarified accusations against the pieces laying around as the sleeping, unresponsive Church. We have all been guilty of pointing a finger to a wrong out there, ignoring the wrong that persists in our own heart. Evidently, He is building His congregation, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. (Mat 16:18) and at the end, there will be one final assembly, when all the dead will be judged at the white throne judgement. (Rev 20:11-15)
The question Afrika Mhlophe asked during the recent Africa Leader Forum needs more in-depth attention and dialogue; “WHAT KIND OF CHRISTIANITY ARE WE CREATING?”
We all recognise and acknowledge that the state of the nation in respect to corruption, nepotism, racism, and the enormous economic disparity experienced in SA, is because these strongholds still persist within most churches. We see the evidence of Christian Nations like São Tomé and Príncipe; DRC; Angola; Rwanda; Seychelles; Equatorial Guinea; Lesotho; Namibia; and Swaziland with more than 90% of their citizens being professing Christians are among the poorest Countries in the World.
There is hence a united outcry: REFORM THE CHURCH TO REFORM THE LAND!
There is an even greater dangerous innate disease threatening the Church. More and more people are leaving local institutional churches and pick and choose their spiritual diet on social media. Evangelism, and belonging to a local body of believers is on the increasing decline!
According to the Pew Research Center, the ranks of the Nones have ballooned in recent years, making “no religious affiliation” the fastest-growing category among religious af?liations. Between 1972 and 1989, about 7% of Americans identified as having no formal religious affiliation, However, between 1990 and 2012, that figure jumped to 15%. Among people under age thirty. Just over 30% say they have no religious affiliation. At the same time, the percentage of the U.S. population that are Christian has experienced a steady decline, and other faiths have had modest growth at best.
A recent study that was conducted by Barna Group reviewed the society’s perception in matters regarding faith and Christianity. Examining a new book called Good Faith; the findings indicated that Christianity is increasingly viewed as extremist.  The 2017 Pew research is more specific and reveals that most adults surveyed still do consider themselves Christians, even if they seldom go to Church. These non-attendees beliefs on matters of sex, gender, nationalism, are widely more liberal than how it is portrayed and officiated by the formal Church. It is thus abundantly clear that the Church is no longer unified on issues of doctrine, worldview, or best practise living standards.