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n 1980, a young pastor fresh from seminary arrived at his first pastorate and encountered a startling reality. Although thinking he was fully aware of the issues at hand, he soon learned this was not the case. When you get on site you soon gain “insight.” Church attendance had diminished from over 1,000 to an average of 55. There were no children’s Sunday School classes because there were no children. The average age in the congregation exceeded 70, and its past had become glorified nostalgia. On his first Sunday, the service ended at the expected 12:00 hour. As he and his wife made their way to the lobby, amazingly, in spite of the infirmities of age, the congregation had exited and were rapidly emptying the parking lot. The box of church attendance had been checked, and they were ready to move on. There were no sounds of fellowship from lingering crowds, only an empty sanctuary and parking lot within five minutes of the benediction. The pastor, who had gone outside to speak to the departing congregation, was embarrassingly locked out of the church building by the equally rapid exit of the part-time church janitor. After breaking into his own church to obtain his Bible and car keys, along with his wife’s belongings, they looked at each

other with an increasing realization of how enormous this challenge would be. But there was more to come. While all other churches in the area had monthly accounts at the local office supply store, the pastor soon learned his church was excluded and designated as “cash only” due to past payment delays. The first session meeting revealed the likelihood that of five elders, only two had a personal saving relationship with Christ. The other three, while well-meaning, did not savingly “know the Lord.” Of the two who exhibited spiritual maturity, one was transferred within three months, and the other died of leukemia. The church had not met its budget in seven years. But perhaps the most startling event was a phone call from one of the previous nine pastors revealing a tumultuous past. This pastor, while graciously welcoming the new pastor to his charge, asked a strange and probing question: “Did you pray before you accepted this call?” After answering “yes,” the obvious question was, “Why did you ask?” The answer was stunning. He informed the new pastor that he believed the church “had the mark of Satan upon it.” One pastor had been attacked publicly with a knife by his wife after she discovered his marital unfaithfulness with a church member. Another pastor had resigned from the ministry due to prescription drug |


Churchy Gimmicks  
Churchy Gimmicks  

Has the Church Sold Its Soul to Consumerism?