Of the 250,000 Protestant churches in America, 200,000 are either stagnant (with no growth) or declining. That is 80% of the churches in America and maybe the one you attend, if you attend at all. 4,000 churches close their doors every single year. There is less than half of the number of churches today than there were only 100 years ago. 3,500 people leave the church every single day.
These sobering statistics make today’s psalm even more prescient. Although the psalm speaks of Israel, likened as a vine which is withering away, it sounds like the cry of many American churches. They scratch their heads wondering why in the world they are dying. They are perplexed by the precipitous decline of their congregations. Like Israel, they keep looking to outside forces as the reason for their loss of members instead of looking inward to their own lack of fruitfulness.
At least the psalmist cries out to God: “God All Powerful, please do something!… make us strong again! Smile on us and save us!” Far too many churches do not even think to cry out to God, but have bought into the magical thinking that some tweak of the worship service, some program alteration, or maybe a new pastor will solve their woes. But God is not looking for superficial changes; He is looking for wholehearted repentance. Until we begin with our own hearts within our own congregations, our lamentations will fall flat before the Lord. Revival starts with you and me.
Mighty God, you planted thousands of churches throughout this country and the world in order to bear fruit and produce abundance. Yet, we are withering before you because of our own stubbornness and blindness. Search my heart and know me, O Lord; see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting for the sake of Jesus, my Savior. Amen.