Pastor, It Could Be Worse…
Church attendance is down & looking at stats can be depressing when thinking about faith in North America, BUT it could be worse, & it actually has been much worse in the history of Christianity. For instance, I recently read the great book How the West Won by Rodney Stark & he records the conditions of the reformation era churches in Germany:
In 1525, the newly reformed church put together a research arm & began making systematic observations & interviews of churches. Here’s some of what was in the reports:
- “You’ll find more of them out fishing than at service… those who do come walk out as soon as the pastor begins his sermon.”
- “A pastor testified that he often quits his church without preaching… because not a soul has turned up to hear him.”
- “Absenteeism from church on Sunday mornings was so widespread that the shod debated whether the city gates should be barred on Sunday mornings to lock everyone inside. Evidence from elsewhere suggests that this expedient would not have helped.”
- “Those who come to services are usually drunk… and sleep through the whole sermon, except sometimes they fall off the benches, making a great clatter…”
- “During church there is such snoring that I could not believe my ears when I heard it…”
- “People make indecent gestures at members of the congregation who wish to join in singing the hymns…”
- “The play cards while the pastor preaches, and often mock or mimic him cruelly to his face…”
- The researcher notes: “I have selected only such instances as could be multiplied a hundredfold.”
even Martin Luther admitted that neither the tidal wave of publications nor all the Lutheran preachers in Germany had made the slightest dent in the ignorance, irreverence, and alienation of the masses. Luther complained in 1529, “Dear God help us! The common man, especially in the villages, knows absolutely nothing about Christian doctrine; and indeed many pastors are in effect unfit and incompetent to teach. Yet they are all called Christians, are baptized, and enjoy the holy sacraments…”
And let us not forget that a small group of uneducated fishermen & the likes overcame the Pantheism of the Roman Empire with the same message & the same power of God that we have access to today. Be encouraged that the Gospel we preach has overcame incredible odds over & over again in the history of the world. And it can happen again.
Posted on May 11, 2015, in Church and tagged Church, church attendance. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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