In this follow-up piece from the launch editorial, Stewart discusses the state of the church in the United Kingdom and how Heal Your Land will stand in the gap to awaken the Church in this hour.
The church in the United Kingdom is in the midst of a crisis with attendance figures continually dropping. Declining attendance figures show the UK has given up with church and it is a picture of gradual continual decline which, if trends continue will eventually see the church disappear from the fabric of the nation.
That is the view you can easily get if you only read the top religious news headlines in the mainstream media. It is also a story the devil is quite happy to perpetuate as it helps to knock the confidence of some in the church that little bit more. The media love a negative story and they also love to bash the church, so when the two themes come together at the same time the media goes to town.
The truth is though, that whilst overall church attendance figures are coming down (and have been for quite a few decades now), that does not tell the whole story and nor are attendance figures a sensible metric by which to measure the strength of the church. If you look at the Church of England in isolation, it is obvious less people are attending those congregations and more people are identifying themselves as having no religious affiliation, that is of course only a small sector of the church.
There are many reasons for this decline: style of church might be a reason (black majority and Pentecostal churches have been growing at a high rate in recent years), or perhaps it has more to do with the direction the church has gone. After all, the success of the church is not (or should not) be a question of numbers, more the fervency of faith, scriptural basis of teaching and a place that believers are part of, not something they exclusively go to.
Whilst many churches still have good teaching, some have watered down the gospel to fit in with modern society. Others have a style of meetings and other associated activities which give rise to various concerns. The church service is now so often something put on for you, a show if you like or at best a participatory concert. You are encouraged to ‘get involved’ with activities that have already been organised, rather than being a part of it. You are encouraged to ‘come along’ to the Sunday service, but few (if any) concerns are raised if you decide to have other priorities that take precedence. This is not what the charismatic church came into being for. It started as a response to a need to have a much closer alignment with the early church, impacting our society and seeking an enlargement of the Kingdom, rather than what the established church had become: dry, stale, compromised and disconnected from its Jewish roots.
if people do not feel part of something, they are not connected to it and so place less importance on it meaning they are less inclined to prioritise it above other activities
The truth is that without believers, the church does not exist. It follows that if people do not feel part of something, they are not connected to it and so place less importance on it meaning they are less inclined to prioritise it above other activities when church becomes just another optional activity.
When we start to accept optional church attendance, we lose sight of our purpose
Sixty years ago, attending church on a Sunday morning was normal and expected. Not to do so was frowned upon and your unannounced absence would probably be recognised. Now society has changed. We live in a much more secular society, one where church attendance is highly optional, even it seems for believers. The result of this is a church that is no longer a major part of our lives and no longer at the centre of the community. A church where it doesn’t matter if you are not part of a local church, because, that is your personal decision and after all, we’re all on an individual ‘journey’ and we dare not interfere with it. To be seen taking part in a leisure activity at 11am on a Sunday is normal for the world, but as Christians we are called to be in, not of the world. To be movers and shakers, salt and light. The church should be an expression of God’s love, not some sort of optional part of society that we do if we ‘feel’ like it. Believers should come together for the edification of one another, to praise God corporately and to share the gospel in our neighbourhood. When we start to accept optional church attendance, we lose sight of our purpose. We lose sight of our calling and often, too much time in the world isolated from fellow believers can lead to our losing sight of God and his purpose for us.
The church was never intended to be a ‘social club’. It should be at the centre of our walk with Christ, an essential element of our Faith. Of course, part of the problem is that it is now too easy to not go to church. Across the world, there are many nations where being a Christian is almost impossible, yet in Iran, in China and in Burma Christians come together to praise and worship God and to build up one another often risking their lives to do so. It is to our shame that given the struggles and risks our brothers and sisters take elsewhere in the world simply to meet together that we take such a casual approach to church.
so many in the church who have become so obsessed with being ‘relevant’, ‘accessible’ and inclusive’ that they have lost sight of what matters
Lack of involvement and the meaning of Church membership go some way to explaining the state of the church, but they are really just manifestations of far more serious symptoms. There are so many churches and so many in the church who have become so obsessed with being ‘relevant’, ‘accessible’ and inclusive’ that they have lost sight of what matters. They have lost sight of biblical principles and interpret the Bible through the world around them rather than interpreting the world around them through the Bible. This, combined with an increasingly secular society where the line between good and bad, right and wrong is blurred has led to many churches watering down the truth, compromising on their beliefs and teaching replacement theology. When we are asked what our view on abortion, or Israel, gay marriage, or euthanasia is, most Christians know what their instinctive belief is, (or should be) yet many do one of three things and none of them pleasing to God:
- We stay silent for fear of causing offence to someone somewhere
- We compromise our beliefs by encompassing elements of the opposing belief into our faith structure so as to show the church as relevant and inclusive
- We completely capitulate and agree with the opposing view and then attempt to reconcile it to scripture.
The problem here is that not one of these options is an option for the God fearing believer. Nowhere in the Bible are we taught to have beliefs but alter them in the face of adversity.
When we accept Jesus as our Lord and saviour, repent of our sins, accept His forgiveness and invite the Holy Spirit into our hearts, we undergo an inward change. We are no longer of the world. We are of God, grafted into his inheritance through the sacrifice of his blood.
As believers, our confidence comes from God alone through the Holy Spirit and so we should be able to confidently state our (the biblical) view in love, yet many often fall at the first hurdle for fear of causing ‘offence’. We are told not to worry about what to say for the words will be provided to us and “For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (Matthew 10:19-20). If God promises to provide the words for us to say then what is there to worry about?
The problem with remaining silent is that it goes against scripture. We are called to proclaim the truth, not just allow people to think that in the absence of another opinion their sinful way must be correct. The problem with seeking to not cause offence is that in so doing, we often actually cause offence albeit not deliberately. The other person may conclude (perhaps wrongly) that our silence is because we are in some way ashamed of our view. If our view is a biblical one then we have nothing to be ashamed of at all, indeed Paul in his epistle t the church at Rome states that he is not ashamed of the gospel because it is the gospel of Christ. Someone who is predisposed to being offended will find a way of being so despite our best efforts, so it is generally better to just focus on sharing our view rather than focusing on trying to avoid offending. If we keep our silence even though we know they are wrong, we are potentially depriving God of a chance to pour out his love on the lost. If we walk away without saying anything, the individual may be offended by our walking away.
Offence is a choice. When something is said that could result in offence being taken, there is a choice on the part of the recipient, the choice to take it or to leave it. God teaches us to leave it (Ecclesiastes 7:20-21). Offence is not something that can be given, it can only be taken and God tells us to not take it. Let not other’s lack of understanding and sinfulness lead us to greater condemnation through the taking of offence. That being said, we do have a responsibility to say things and share views out of love and in a sensitive and compassionate manner for that is what needs to always be our motivation.
You cannot be partially for God, you are either for or against him. Compromising our beliefs is therefore not an option
Compromising our beliefs is perhaps the worst of all the options. Another word for compromising belief is to be lukewarm. The Bible is clear when God says in the third chapter of Revelation that those who are lukewarm will not gain the inheritance of eternal life. God would rather we be cold in unbelief than lukewarm in partial belief. You cannot be partially for God, you are either for or against him. Compromising our beliefs is therefore not an option. It might look like the easiest option in order to placate opposition, but it will only cause greater problems down the line. Being a believer in and follower of Christ is not always the easy option, more often than not it won’t be, for God says narrow is the path and few will find it, but it is the path that leads to everlasting life (Matthew 7:13-14). You will find in life that whilst disagreeing with you, many people will respect your position more if you take an uncompromising stance.
The only way we can be effective agents for the Kingdom of God is by refusing to bow the knee to the spirit of the age and instead choosing to follow God, speaking of and standing for Jesus everywhere we go. Compromising or capitulating renders us useless to God because his message of love, forgiveness for sins and the offer of new life is no longer being proclaimed. Anyone in that situation is no longer fully serving God, but themselves for they have chosen to put their own fears above their fear of God.
Many in the church are in a slumber, asleep to the state of the nation and the world around them
God has called us to live a life of faith in an uncompromising manner that allows us to offer ourselves as wholly and honourable sacrifices unto Him. Many in the church and many churches have sadly taken one of the options above. It is not for us to judge people’s hearts, but to pray for their return to a position of true biblical teaching; that they will see the error of their ways and be convicted by the Holy Spirit of a need to return to biblical truth and principle.
Many in the church are in a slumber, asleep to the state of the nation and the world around them. Many are living a life they find nice and comfortable and do not wish to move from there. Many are so confused by all the lies, deceptions and evil appearing to prevail they have buried their head in the sand. Many more wonder if the church is finished in the UK. They see the decline, they see the errors and they do not know where to go.
Fortunately God provides a fourth option here for all of us. The chance to choose the uncompromising faith led life in him. It will not always be easy. It won’t always be comfortable, but it will bring many more everlasting blessings than any of the other three options combined.
There are many dry bones in the church and God is calling on the church to wake up, to have new life breathed into those dry bones, to rise up, to not accept compromise, to reject the way of the world and its deceptions and get back to the basic fundamental truths of the Word of God. There is coming a great shaking of this nation and it will be for the church to receive the lost on that day. Now is the time to arise, now is the time to speak with increased boldness, to shake off the shackles of unbelief, of doubt, of compromise and of fear. Now is the hour for the church to “Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near” (Joel 3:9) “for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14).
God has called Heal Your Land into being for a specific purpose: To highlight issues and events the church should be aware of, awake to, concerned for and praying about. After all, it is only through prayer and a deep desire that we will see first the church being restored in this nation and then a revival throughout this land that will bring about the cultural transformation th nation needs.
We will focus on social issues such as abortion, end of life, sexuality, genetics, science and medicine. We will monitor legislation, debates, motions, questions and other business in Parliament. We will raise awareness of Christians coming under persecution in the UK. We will raise issues of importance in the Middle East, explaining their significance in context of the spiritual war we fight and why as believers we should be praying for Israel and the Middle East. We will provide spiritual insight and discernment on these issues, giving useful prayer points for you to use to be fervently praying “God’s Kingdom come here on earth as it is in heaven” and we will do all this whilst explaining each issue from a biblical perspective in an uncompromising way.
We live in days of great significance. We are seeing prophecy being fulfilled before our eyes, but we must also understand that we are also living in days of great deception. This ministry will cut through the deceit and deception and present the truth according to the Bible.
As you read content on this site, please share it with your friends and family, send it onto your church leaders, comment on articles and above all, pray for God’s church and this nation of the United Kingdom.
The church needs a new reformation; our nation needs revival. Come with us and help to bring awakening to the church that the veil that blinds would be lifted and believers would be awakened to the significance of events taking place, understanding the times we live in and consequently knowing how, in the confidence of Christ to proclaim the life giving and affirming gospel which is our only hope.
The Church must return to righteousness and biblical truth. Our nation needs spiritual healing and restoration. Our nation needs God now more than ever before. Let God’s people arise in prayer as we cry out to Him “Heal Your Land”.