The apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 1:18 (NLT):
Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body”
Churches are dying – some are dead already. Or, at least, that’s how it seems to the uninitiated or those who don’t really understand.
You see, all through the land of Wales and the United Kingdom, churches are closing their doors, closing down, being sold to become household homes or business premises; other churches are struggling to survive, facing dwindling numbers and a congregation which is getting older. Many have reached the realisation that when they are gone, or there are too few to maintain the services or the building, their church too must close.
It’s no surprise, when you realise that the numbers of individuals in the country who consider themselves to be Christian has halved over the last 25 years or so. In 2018 just over one-third of people in the UK identified as being Christian, compared with two-thirds 25 years earlier, according to statistics.
Church membership in the UK has seen a similar decline – from 10.6 million in 1930 to 5.4 million in 2013 (from around 30% to 10% of the population). And in terms of church attendance (as opposed to membership) numbers have declined from 6.4 million in 1980 to 3.1 million in 2015, according to the statistics.
According to those last figures, they state that “with a continued rate of decline at this level, the number of UK-born Christians would reduce to zero by 2067.”
The church is dead
Given those statistics, you would say that the church is dead. Christians are a dying breed. And, as we are still in the throws of the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, all churches are now empty – even the ones that were open before! The church is dead indeed.
Or so it seems.
When you ask someone, “Can you tell me where the nearest church is?” they will tell you, “it’s down this street, on the corner,” or, “it’s in such-and-such a street,” or village or town. The answer is, invariably, the geographic position of a building which is known as a church. That’s the general perception of the general population – the church is a building.
So, how can a church be dead or alive? It’s just a building – it’s bricks and mortar, masonry and carpentry, plasterboard and paint. It does not have a life of its own.
But the Bible says something different. You see, according to the Bible:
Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body.” Colossians 1:18
Long live the church
And He’s alive! Jesus is alive! Yes, He died on the cross to pay for your sin and mine, but He came back to life, and ascended into heaven, where He sits on the right hand of God. The head of the church is alive!
And WE are the body! You see, when you become a Christian, when you believe and confess that Christ died for you and is alive at the right hand of God, you become part of the body – the church:
We have all been baptised into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.” 1 Corinthains 12:13
And let me ask you one question – are you alive today? Of course, if you’re reading this, you must be alive! You see, the church is alive! Long live the church!
And what’s more – we’re breaking out! For too long, we have been stuck behind four closed walls, in a building that everyone else thought was the church. No longer are we stuck – in fact, we are forced out! We cannot, any longer, meet in a building and worship together, as the worldwide pandemic has forced us to be isolated on our own in our own homes. The church building – at this current moment in time – is defunct!
And it’s causing a revival in the church! YES – a revival of our spirits and our desire, not only to reach out to one another, but to reach out to this virus-ravaged world to bring hope, to bring comfort, and to bring blessing. Where we were too nervous to reach out to fulfil the Great Commission before, or even the Great Command to love our neighbours, we are now seeking new ways to do just that.
Church buildings all over the country have been put to new use – many of them providing sustenance and succour to those who are self-isolating and struggling to manage to feed themselves. We’re reaching out into communities where we barely reached before; we’re reaching members of the community who would never, ever, dream of setting a foot in the church building otherwise!
And we are seeking new ways of sharing the love of Jesus with those who don’t know Him. We’re praying for our communities behind closed doors, and we are getting together to pray and to share blessings with those would otherwise never get to hear that God loves them and that He has a plan and a purpose for their lives, despite everything that’s going on around them right now.
It was great to hear – on YouTube – a blessing shared by hundreds who came come together online to sing a blessing over our land. They say:
Standing together as one, our desire is that this song will fill you with hope and encourage you. But the church is not simply singing a blessing, each day we’re looking to practically be a blessing. Many of the churches included in this song have assisted with supplying over 400,000 meals to the most vulnerable and isolated in our nation since COVID-19 lockdown began. This alongside phone calls to the isolated, pharmacy delivery drops and hot meals to the NHS frontline hospital staff. Our buildings may be closed but the church is very much alive!
YES! We’re alive – the church is alive, long live the church!
Heavenly Father, the church is alive – long live the church. Thank You that you have given us this opportunity to reach out to others in the community who may not know You. We pray a blessing on their lives, and we ask for healing in this land, that many more will come to know You and that we will see a revival in this land – both inside the church (in us) and in others who will now realise that the church is not just a building – it’s us, Your people – and that we are very much alive. In the name of your precious Son, Jesus. Amen.”