In-pew missionaries to an apostate church are needed, but it’s a rough ministry. One of the huge changes in the church over the past four decades, beyond the exodus from the mainline denominations, through the me generations, is the growing fact of an apostate church. We are certainly not surprised—as Paul told us about this in II Thessalonians 2:3
Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, NKJV
In-pew missionaries to an apostate church have a rough calling
We are watching the Great Falling Away, the apostasy, the rebellion. Most churches today are barely Christian. They have changed from a ministry to the sheep of the Lord to a missionary field of abandoned people with no witness of the Gospel in their lives.
My heart goes out to those who are lost yet think they are believers
There are millions of people who go to church, yet have never heard the Gospel. More than that, their minds are poisoned by negative rhetoric about fundamentalists, holy rollers, Jesus freaks, and “the religious”.
Back in 2004, a Barna report told us the following:
Based on interviews with 601 Senior Pastors nationwide, representing a random cross-section of Protestant churches, Barna reports that only half of the country’s Protestant pastors – 51% – have a biblical worldview. Defining such a worldview as believing that absolute moral truth exists, that it is based upon the Bible, and having a biblical view on six core beliefs (the accuracy of biblical teaching, the sinless nature of Jesus, the literal existence of Satan, the omnipotence and omniscience of God, salvation by grace alone, and the personal responsibility to evangelize), the researcher produced data showing that there are significant variations by denominational affiliation and other demographics.
“The most important point,” Barna argued, “is that you can’t give people what you don’t have. The low percentage of Christians who have a biblical worldview is a direct reflection of the fact that half of our primary religious teachers and leaders do not have one. In some denominations, the vast majority of clergy do not have a biblical worldview, and it shows up clearly in the data related to the theological views and moral choices of people who attend those churches.”
One would think that believing absolute moral truth exists, that it is revealed in the Bible (which is inspired by God), that Jesus is sinless, Satan exists, that God is omnipotent and omniscient, salvation by grace alone, and the personal responsibility to evangelize would be common beliefs. But they no longer are. The figures have gotten much worse than they were in 2004, but I haven’t taken the time to track down more recent stats (though I’ve seen some). The 2004 report says only 70% of Baptist preachers had a Biblical worldview and only 27% of Methodist preachers.
It’s gotten much worse than that. We may have two churches in my town of around 100,000 people which preach the biblical worldview mentioned above. Most do not believe the Bible, think miracles are only in the past, that you can be saved by a commitment made as a teenager, even though you’ve had no more communication with the Lord since then & the list goes on and on. My experience over the past 5 years in mainline churches is that there are barely 2 or 3 people with a saving knowledge of Jesus in a church of 600 or more (no rigorous survey, just the reactions in talking to the people).
What do you do if you are in-pew?
- Pray! The power of the Holy Spirit is essential in this work. You need to put yourself under His control, pray for His anointing, pray that he will give your opportunities to share, pray for opportunities to help people in the church, and to be a good witness. Let us know so we can pray with you and for you. Just a word in a comment will do it.
- Study scripture: Start a Bible study, but more importantly, fill yourself with the written Word as well as the in-dwelling Word of the Holy Spirit.
- Study founding documents of the church: In almost all cases, the original founding documents are excellent statements of belief and doctrine. For Episcopalians, the 29 Articles are good. The men and women who started what became the denomination were solid. Luther knew the Lord well, as did Wesley. The same is true of McPherson, Wimber, and many others. Learn to quote those who are important in the history of the church within which you are ministering. Learn to speak their language better than the members do. Become a source to true spiritual quotes from within the denomination. As a Roman Catholic, you might focus on Peter. His letters are strong.
- Find support outside the church: As I said, we will support you in any way we can through prayer, study materials, and mentoring. Send us a detailed message on the contact form.
This is a great, and needed, work in the church today. We need to get the final remnant saved so the Lord can come. You can really help.