Greetings Elmwood Family,
Years ago I heard a pastor eloquently use the phrase “autumnal splendor” to describe the glory of God’s creation at this time of year. Truly the beauty of autumn is all around us once again. Following the Great Flood the LORD made a promise to Noah and said, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Just as the LORD loves His creation He also loves His Church. In fact, Holy Scripture calls the Church the Bride of Christ. We are His beloved bride and Jesus sacrificed His life out love on our behalf.
Sadly the Church is in trouble in the United States right now. These are not easy times. Our culture is becoming more and more a post-Christian society. Christians are not as warmly welcomed as in days gone by. More and more the vocal minority is attempting to remove all Christian influence from day-to-day living and is continually pushing at the Church to keep its views inside the church walls. Recent polls seem to indicate that the Millennials, young adults thirty and under, are not returning to the church as quickly as past generations. However, here in Minnesota we may actually be seeing a unique reversal of this trend with the rise of churches like Substance, which are significantly attracting the Millennials to their worship sites. Their pattern of worship is significantly different from the way most churches have worshipped in recent times. Their worship services are very casual, high energy times with intense Christian music, featuring electronically geared presentations and messages. The setting is not the typical traditional look with altars, pews, and organs.
Recently a group of twenty-two Elmwood people attended the Minneapolis premier of the Christian documentary, “When God Left the Building.” In this film the decline of the Christian Church in America was vividly brought before our eyes. It was tough to watch. The picture painted through much of the film wasn’t very hopeful. For some, it was downright depressing.
But what about us and the millions of small neighborhood and rural churches across the United States that still exist and desire to be relevant in our culture as well. Are we obsolete and doomed to extinction, like the dinosaurs? Or is there still hope and a place for us in the Bride of Christ in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus to a lost and dying world?
As I stated in last month’s newsletter, Jesus declares in Matthew 16:18, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.” This promise is just as true for us today as the vow the LORD made to Noah centuries ago. Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Church. He is our head. Buildings and patterns of worship have changed through the ages, but the Christian Church has always prevailed. For you see Christianity is not just doctrines and precepts, it is based on a dynamic living relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thom Schultz, the producer of “When God Left the Building,” challenges the Church to be like Jesus and practice four key actions: RADICAL HOSPITALITY, FEARLESS CONVERSATION, GENUINE HUMILITY, and DIVINE ANTICIPATION. Over the next several months we will be exploring these four actions to assist us here at Elmwood to be faithful to Christ in this generation. So be bold and brave. Do not fret or fear. Pray and praise. Jesus is Lord and He is with us. Amen!Together with you for His Sake, Pastor Fred
Pastor's Corner >