By Dr. Kevin Thomas —
The news for the church seems bleak. The facts are in. It doesn’t look good. The fastest growing religious group in America is the unaffiliated. (We call them the NONES, because they claim no religious affiliation.) As many as 65% of Americans are now considered to be “immune from congregational Christianity.” Church attendance is declining in every denomination. According to some studies, all major U.S. denominations will be extinct in 25 years. That last fact means that the children at Forest Lake will not be United Methodist when they’re my age. It looks bad!
But, God is good. God is up to something, demonstrating yet again that these dry bones can live. We are on the eve of a new revival. The seeds are already being sown. Some of the harvest is already visible. Jesus is once again taking the church to where the people are: ballfields, restaurants, offices, dog parks, bars, and tattoo parlors. Over the last 12-14 years, the Gospel has grown up in all of those places, and more! Over 6000 of these fresh expressions of church have reached over 66,000 people in our country, 80% of whom were not previously involved in church. God is doing a new thing!
This Sunday, we will explore Fresh Expressions, a movement to take the church Christ loves to the people Christ loves. Rev. Michael Beck of Wildwood United Methodist Church in Florida will be our guest preacher. Under Michael’s leadership, Wildwood UMC has planted the church in a local restaurant, a dog park, and a tattoo parlor. Michael will preach in both worship services and lead a workshop from 2 to 5 p.m. for anyone wanting to learn more.
Even with the challenges, it’s an exciting time to be the church. We have the privilege of witnessing how God will unveil the Gospel to the next generation. Please pray with me that God will open doors for us to take the message of Jesus to the streets of Tuscaloosa.