Shaping the Future Church in the New Reality


As healthy environments promote healthy individuals, so unhealthy environments promote abnormal or unhealthy interpersonal behavior within the culture. “Negative environments raise negative and broken children.” Erwin McManus. Within any culture, you can have both healthy environments and unhealthy. Every entity within a culture will lead to healthy or unhealthy individual behavior. An entity can be each home, school classroom, business, media, or other institution. When any one of these is not promoting and fulfilling a healthy role in the community, the culture will suffer.

We are witnessing widespread dysfunction today and we can point fingers at any number of negative environments within our society. Let us focus on one, the church. As stated in an earlier blog post, while the world’s population has increased from one billion to over seven billion in the last seven decades, the church in North America has not kept up with the increase. In fact, the church has been in decline for the past at least four decades.

One thing the church should understand is that it is far more significant to shape the values of the culture than to write its laws. Abraham Lincoln said, “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” Oh, how we are seeing this played out in front of our very eyes. It has happened on our watch ladies and gentlemen. The church in North America has failed to influence the culture with biblical values in the last 50-70 years.

Can the church shape the future? Absolutely! But not in and of itself. The church is the bride of Christ. We cannot allow the church to remain as it has been for the last 70+ years. If God’s team is the winning team and the church is declining, its influence fading, we must ask ourselves, “Are we truly on God’s team?”

We have tried programs and priorities, shaming people, and enticing them. We’ve tried deeper, richer Bible expository. All this and more, yet, the church is still in decline, the culture moving farther left of center from God’s will. What are we missing?

One thing perhaps missing is our understanding of God’s directive. We understand God’s directive to be The Great Commission. We preach it, teach it, and go after it – in our 21st-century comfort, politically correct ways. What we are missing is the hunger and thirst of the church found in the book of Acts. I’m not sure that reading the Acts account or studying it is enough. We’ve been reading and studying it for years.

We need to die to self as these early believers did. They were known as the Way. They created a movement that flipped the world upside down. We need a pivotal change in our thinking and our way of living. We need to plead with God to change our thinking and lifestyle so radically that He can create within us a movement unlike any since the early church in Acts.

The choice is yours. The choice is mine. Choose you this day whom you will serve, the Gods of the church of the 20th & 21st century or The Lord of Lords, God Almighty.

George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at

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