Fasten your seat belts!

This week someone asked me ‘where I see the Christian Reformed Church in ten years’ Honestly, what came to mind were these words, ‘FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELTS!’ I believe we are in for some turbulent times in the next ten years. We should not be surprised. Our Captain warned us: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Consider the challenges we are facing as a denomination. Attendance and giving, commitment and loyalty seem to be declining. Our membership is aging, and many young adults are choosing to leave the church. Members look to their leaders to lead, yet fewer members are willing to serve as leaders. Churches are struggling to navigate the 21st century; some are splitting or closing.

Fractures are appearing in our theological, moral and biblical unity. How do we read the bible? How do we worship? How do we respond to homosexuality? The political polarization seen in the recent U.S. election appears in the church as well. Many are lamenting the weakness of the church, or critical of its moral failings. Many are tired of religion and looking outside of the church for spiritual meaning.

Given all this, how can we have any hope for the future of our churches? If our hope is placed in our leaders, programs or ministry plans, we will crash. Grabbing on to the flight attendant or the food cart will not help when turbulence strikes. We need something more solid, someone more secure… and that can only be Jesus! We need to fasten our seat belts, to anchor our hope to the Captain of the Church.

As churches, our top priority must be to encourage and equip disciples of Jesus. We need to encourage them in their relationship with Jesus as Saviour and Lord. We need to equip them to live and to love more like Jesus. We need to equip them for active kingdom service for Jesus in the world. Most of all, we need to urge them to hold on to the One that is holding on to them, no matter what happens (Philippians 3:12).

So where do I see the Christian Reformed Church in ten years? I do see hopeful signs. These struggles are driving believers to their knees, and forcing them to dig deeper in the Lord. Church leaders are recognizing that changing our models is necessary for fulfilling our mission. Our denominational ministry plan (Our Journey 20/20) is renewing its support for local church discipleship.

To be honest, I expect we will continue to see decline and division in the coming years. But I also expect that through these trials the church will grow deeper and stronger in its core. Our Captain Jesus is using this turbulence to draw His disciples back to Himself. He is urging us to be “seated with Him”, to “remain in Him” and to be “anchored to Him”. As the turbulence increases, hear His invitation to ‘FASTEN OUR SEAT BELTS’ to Him!

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