Hope for the future

Despite all the gloom, I see hope for the Christian church in the Western world.

The statistics are all against me. People are abandoning the church in droves – many of them young people.

My confidence is based partly on my own experience observing our own children and grandchildren. Our three children and their spouses are all actively involved in their churches and their own ministries. Our grandchildren are growing in their faith in Christ.

But my hope is based on more than that. I see young people flocking to the International House of Prayer in Kansas City and the 24/7 prayer houses around the world, launched years ago by Pete Grieg. I see idealistic youth engaged in inner city mission work.

I see a new generation of young pastors and church leaders speaking eloquently about Christ. They are turning the spotlight on God while the rest of the world is focused on self.

But I want to go even beyond that evidence and point to what God has promised.

In Joel 3, God speaks of the final days of history when the Holy Spirit is poured out “upon all people”. He talks about people having dreams and visions and prophesying. He mentions wonders in heaven and earth. Many will find faith in God.

Some may object that the final days of history may be centuries away. Possibly, but we already see God moving in signs and wonders in nations around the world. The growth of the Christian church in Africa, Asia and Latin America is nothing short of spectacular.

There is another promise that gives me hope.

In Isaiah 55:11, God says: “It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”

As long as there are people who stand firm on God’s word, the church will survive. In fact, I believe it will grow with deeper roots than it has now in our sceptical Western world.

The church in the West is going through a refining fire right now. What will emerge is a purer church, a stronger church, a church that is advancing the kingdom of God on earth.

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