There are many churches in Canada that are in decline. That’s not news. In my own denomination, congregations are closing at a rate never before seen. I am grateful that there are some in my own, and in other denominations, that are growing and vibrant.
What do you suppose is the cause of this? It could be a long conversation to talk about decline, but there’s a story in Mark 2 that helps us understand vitality. In that story, four friends of a paralytic are so convinced that Jesus can heal their friend that, unable to navigate through the crowd, they dig a hole in the roof and lower him into the house where Jesus was teaching to get Jesus to heal him.
In the beginning of that story, though, Mark sets the scene this way: “When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door” (Mark 2.1-2a, NLT). I read that story to a friend recently, and those words stopped her in her tracks. Why? Because that’s the answer to what brings vitality to the church: “Soon the house…was so packed with visitors that there was no room, even outside the door.”
Jesus was in the house. And that made all the difference.
The instructive word for us in the church today is that if we want to see vitality, growth, vibrancy, we need to ensure Jesus is in the house.
That means setting aside our own biases, our own wishes, and praying heartily for the Lord’s presence to be in our worship, in our service, in every aspect of our churches.
Give it a try this week! God knows what amazing things could happen to the church in Canada if we invite the risen Lord Jesus Christ into our midst – not just in the church, but in our homes. Is Jesus in your house?