In an article from March 29, 2021, Gallup reported (Jeffrey M. Jones, Gallup News) that less than half of adult Americans have a formal membership with a specific house of worship, down more than 20 points over the past two decades. Gallup reports that the decline in church membership is primarily a function of the increasing number of Americans who express no religious preference. Jones’s article painted a bleak future for churches, although the full effects of COVID19 across the country are yet to be seen.
Do we find this news discouraging? Or…Is it time to re-establish our foundations?
I wonder…What might the “polls” in Jerusalem have been reporting about the state of Christianity after Jesus was crucified? It seemed as though the long-awaited Messiah had died a shameful death. However, Jesus had risen from the dead and walked with his disciples for another 40 days before he ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. When the Jews gathered for the Feast of Pentecost, a mere 50 days after the disciples’ last supper with Jesus, Jerusalem was packed with people from all over the Roman empire. That was no coincidence! While people from all nations were gathered in that city, God poured out His Holy Spirit on the Church.
On that day, the hearts of men and women were broken because of their unbelief and sin, and they asked Peter and the other apostles, “What should we do?” Peter proceeded to lay out for them the path to becoming a disciple of Jesus. First, they should repent and be baptized. Peter reminded them that the Scriptures – the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings – point to Jesus and God’s faithful pursuit of his people. Many did just what Peter said… and thousands of people were added to the newly formed Church that day and in the days following!
The apostle Peter proclaimed, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off …” (Acts 2:39). God’s salvation brought hope to all people, and the Church began then to spread the good news to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria… and all nations.
God’s promises from centuries before the birth of Christ were fulfilled as the Church was launched. He is both faithful and powerful to continue his work through us today