You could call this article “Where have all the people gone?” Or “Why are so many pastors leaving?”
Churches are smaller, and not everyone who left is home watching Andy Stanley on YouTube. Most of those who are gone are just that—gone!
Truth is, churches and leaders are a smaller band on the backside of COVID-19 than when it all started. However, some are smaller yet stronger.
A lot of what happens from here depends on your outlook. If this is a mess, you and I are in trouble. If it’s pruning, there is cause to rejoice.
I can’t seem to escape John 15 these days. I recently noticed an interesting phrase in the Amplified Bible. Speaking of Jesus, the Vine and the Father, the Vinedresser, Jesus says that those branches which do not bear fruit are “taken away.” That seems to fit today’s church news.
A lot of people were taken away. Later Jesus says “they” gather those branches to be burned. I’m not sure who “they” are, but it doesn’t seem to be the Father. That’s for theologians or people smarter than me to sort.
Then we find that the fruitful branches get pruned to become more productive.
Pruning, then, is an honor!
If you bear fruit and experience pruning, the Trinity believes you are capable of more than you think you are.
But much of how this all turns out depends on your outlook and mine. If we moan and complain, we won’t see blessings as they tumble in our direction.
If we’re thanking God for the pruning, we will pray more, plan more and innovate in ways that lead to God doing more extraordinary things than we could ask or think.
Consider the part of your church family no longer joining you. I’m willing to bet that you’ve lost some toxic members, a few time wasters, and many who never give, only take. If that’s a pruning, I’m up for it any day.