Graphic1

In a recent study, some truths about our denomination were revealed. Even with all the smoke and mirrors we could muster up, the reality is undeniable. Of the 46,000 Southern Baptist churches in North America, 41,600 are plateaued, dying, or near death. If this is true among evangelicals who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, how much more is this true among the mainline denominations?

We have a choice. We can abandon ship, point fingers, or hide our heads in the sand. However, the church that is walking with God will get busy praying, serving, and giving to ensure this doesn’t happen on our watch.

Once great churches in our area are now little more than religious gatherings of old people talking about “the good ole days.” One church in our area averaged 700 in 1973. Today they have 14. I could give you countless examples, but you should already know the truth. Sherwood, like any church, is one generation away from extinction. We can have the nicest buildings, the best programs, and the finest staff, but if we don’t have a biblical purpose and burden, we will eventually die. No, it won’t happen tomorrow…but eventually, churches that lose their purpose and passion end up losing their meaning for living.

If you don’t believe me, check out the churches in the book of Revelation. They were told to “repent or else.” So how do we, now nearly 61 years into our history as a church, not become old, set in our ways, arthritic, and irrelevant?

1) We cry out to the God of heaven. Prayer is not an option; it’s non-negotiable.

2) We use the gifts God has given us to serve others. There is no room for self-centered Christianity. We must be and always remain others-centered.

3) We give generously. Obedience in giving will bring a blessing to you and to the church. It will also allow us to do ministry at the highest level, aggressively pay off our debt, and ultimately, when the debt is paid, free up monies for more church planting and outreach.

4) We protect the unity of the church. Unity is essential if we want the power of the Holy Spirit.

5) We are quick to respond to the invitation. Invitations or altar calls are not for the preacher. They are for the Lord to see that our hearts are not resistant to the prompting of the Spirit.

6) We focus on the gospel – sharing the gospel anywhere and everywhere, anytime and all the time. The church that fails in outreach will ultimately die of a hardened heart.

7) We beseech the Lord for His presence on all that we put our hands to do. We ask that the Holy Spirit will not just be present but preeminent in our services.

I’ve been the pastor of this church for nearly 28 years. I’ve raised my children here. I’ve poured my life into this church. I’ve given sacrificially every year to help us accomplish the will of God. I’ve sought to preach the Word faithfully. I’ve longed to see us be a church known throughout the land for prayer and revival. In other words, I’ve not invested my life, time, energy, and resources to just maintain programs or buildings. I’ve done it to ensure a future for the next generation.

My question is simple: What if every member gave themselves wholeheartedly to ensuring that the gospel and this local church are vital and viable long after we are all gone? Would that be God-glorifying? I think so.

4 thoughts on “

  1. Sherwood was a blessing to me and my family while I was in Albany on the AGE bio Mass project, and they still are. What pastor Catt is saying is so true though. My prayer for Sherwood is to see what they are apart of as we were able to see. My brothers and sisters that make up this church are the real thing! Genuine in the love for God and others. They are serious about prayer and wanting to see the surrounding community come to a knowledge of our glorious Lord. But, we can never think we have arrived on this side of glory. There is so much work to be done! There are so many people to tell of our Savior and the work he did on that cross, and the victory he won when he arose from that grave on the third day! We shall never grow weary of such a beautiful work! Stay focused my brothers and sisters! Keep fighting that fight and keep running the race. Keep loving on people the way you loved our family! Oh how we love and miss you all and pray for you regularly. Soli Deo Gloria!!!

  2. The Parable of the ten virgins is what has been on my mind as i woke up with a burden about the church after hearing a powerful message about “The unshakeable Church”, There is a place where it says they fell asleep , The Church is Asleep and God is trying to wake us up but we keep pushing the snooze but I am reminded that God will shake everything that can be shaken and will shake us up out of our sleep , Thank for sharing this article, hope this wake us as Southern Baptists in particular , I am a minister of the gospel have had burden for our denomination and feel the same way as you do, but so many are in denial or their head are in the sands Revive us Again !

  3. May it be so! May we never coast. May we never be content! May we have a hunger and thirst after God. I think we need to be unsettled. We need to be on our knees. Time is short and we are accountable for this time – our time. In the Sunday School class where I serve at Sherwood it has happened several times where we have a member who is there one Sunday and who is, sadly, buried by the next. We’re not guaranteed another week or day or moment.
    I pray that we’ll all wake up and the circle starts with me. Thank you for speaking truth even when it is hard and leading by example. We are excitedly awaiting the opportunity to serve more people with the services and praying that God will send more workers into the harvest.

  4. It saddens me to learn the current state of traditional churches in your part of the hemisphere Pastor Catt. I still believe that the remnant of believers will continue fighting the good fight and keeping hope alive. I cannot imagine a society where God is not at the centre of it, i felt like i was reading about a declining civilization!

    The message of Christ will always be relevant and without God, everything loses meaning. Stay strong Sherwood, be the beacon of hope to many in these tumultuous and unpredictable times.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *