The future of the Church and the Christian movement in the United States seems bleak. However, there is hope. I find hope in the scores of churches that are not turning a deaf ear to these statistics. I find hope in the Christian community’s care and concern for the poor, broken, lonely, sick and outcast. I find hope in the passionate proclamation of the gospel message that the worst thing is never the last thing. I find hope in the lives of the members of the Christian community who embrace others with open hearts, minds and wallets. I find hope in the message of grace and love that was fully embodied in the life of Jesus. I find hope.
Just because I find hope, however, doesn’t mean that these statistics are going to turn around. Perhaps the institutional church as we know it is coming to an end. Regardless of how it all turns out, I believe that we are called as individual Christians and as the Church to never stop in our pursuit of offering love, grace, compassion and care for all whom we encounter. Our profession of Jesus as Lord doesn’t cease on Sunday mornings as we exit our churches in an attempt to beat the Presbyterians to Sunday brunch. Rather, our calling leads us to never cease in doing all that we can — both our words and our actions — for the glory of God.
The Rev. Anthony Stone is associate pastor at Centenary United Methodist Church in Lebanon.