I was reading the latest Pew Center report this week, and it was an eye-opening experience for me as a pastor, on the direction of Christianity in our nation in the decades to come. Here’s a brief portion…
“Since the 1990s, large numbers of Americans have left Christianity to join the growing ranks of U.S. adults who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic, or ‘nothing in particular.’ This accelerating trend is reshaping the U.S. religious landscape, leading many people to wonder what the future of religion in America might look like. What if Christians keep leaving religion at the same rate observed in recent years? Depending on whether religious switching continues at recent rates, speeds up or stops entirely, the projections show Christians of all ages shrinking from 64% to between a little more than half (54%) and just above one-third (35%) of all Americans by 2070.” Pew Research Center, September 13, 2022
The downward movement of Christianity was noticed prior to COVID in churches all across our nation, with a drop in numbers of church goers and their regular attendance at church. Then with COVID, the habit of attending, even for those who were very regular, declined. That’s why we have been working diligently to provide opportunities to gather together, to RE-CONNECT with the community of faith here at Port Naz. We continue to have a sizable number of people view our online service, for which I am thankful, but it doesn’t provide the kind of connection that strengthens relationships, Christ-follower-to-Christ-follower as happens with in-person gatherings.
I highly recommend that you make it a priority to join us in person for our Sunday worship services. There’s just something about connecting with others eye-to-eye, smile-to-smile, and hug-to-hug, and the encouragement that is experienced as we worship together, hear the Word of the Lord together, and are released to go out and positively impact others who may cross our path in the coming week. There has always been the need of encouragement and ongoing motivation to meet together, even from the very beginning of the Church. Let me remind you of the words from the writer of Hebrews in Chapter 10…let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
It's easy to get out of the habit, easy for other things to take priority, and it’s easy to just stay home, put your feet up and have a cup of coffee. But by doing that you may miss what could be the most important time of the week. I’ll look for you Sunday, as we worship TOGETHER!
I have been sharing with you my approach to personal prayer…pray with a grateful heart, a humble spirit, in anticipation of what God is going to do, with bold faith, Kingdom courage, and greater influence.
This week we pray for PERSONAL STRENGTH. As our sphere of influences increases for the Lord (one of our prayers, right?), greater is our need for personal strength. This includes physical stamina, consistent character, and spiritual tenacity. Each day holds its own challenges and opportunities, and we don’t know what we will need to meet those challenges and opportunities - different things on different days. There are days when substantial physical energy is needed to press on, and other days when spiritual strength is needed to resist temptation. There are other times when we may face a spiritual battle, and great strength is required. That’s why we need the Holy Spirit’s involvement in every part of daily living. I believe our heavenly Father enjoys answering these prayers for strength.
O Lord, I want to be a 24/7 person, a ‘moment by moment’ person who seeks to walk hand-in-hand and step-by-step with Your Holy Spirit. I anticipate Your provision of strength at just the right time and in the just the right way. Thank You for this blessing, AMEN & AMEN!
I’ll be looking for you Sunday!