In my time in the Word this morning, I read a sad epitaph in Judges. First a little context. Moses had lead the people from their exit of Egypt through 40 years in the desert. Then the leadership was handed over to Joshua who lead the people into the promised land and through some miraculous military campaigns. The hand of their God had been so miraculously evident over half a century that no one in Israel could escape knowing Yahweh, their God, was with them. Then Joshua dies and so does his generation. So, how does this translate to Joshua’s generation’s kids and grandchildren? Surely they too know of the deeds of Yahweh? Read what the Bible tells us:
After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. (Judges 2:10-12 NIV)
What happened? How does the experience of a generation that knew God’s involvement so intimately not get passed on to their children and grandchildren? While the Church today isn’t the same thing as Israel thousands of years before, I still think we need to glean something from this. There is some good evidence that the Church in America may be declining in it’s reach to each younger generation, such that without a change we may hit a tipping point where the Church’s attendance plummets as older generations pass away.
I’m not a sky-is-falling type, but I do think that this is a profoundly sobering possibility. It is a possibility I want to do everything possible to avoid. It’s one of the reasons I am excited to be on the pastoral team at Harvest Community Church, knowing our collective heart to connect with and share the gospel with the generations behind us. I believe that Jesus is the hope of the world. I believe the gospel is the basis for God’s saving work. And I believe that God has entrusted the Church with the grand responsibility of sharing the gospel.