I hope this finds you and your church body having celebrated a wonderful Easter Sunday! I’ve been encouraged by the reports I’ve heard from countless pastors across North America who experienced amazing Easter Sundays. People were baptized. Many folks returned to church for the first time since Covid-19 shutdowns in March 2019.
Obviously, for us as followers of Christ, the resurrection is the single most important event in the history of the world. Jesus Christ emerged from the tomb, putting to death once for all the power of sin and death. He secured the hope of eternal life with Him in a place free from all sin, sickness, sadness and strife. This is the message of the gospel that we proclaim week in and week out.
The resurrection, however, also points us to hope for dying and declining churches as well. The New Testament declares clearly that Jesus Christ Himself is the head of the church. The same Savior who stepped out of the tomb on Resurrection Sunday morning is the same Savior who leads and guides His church.
Hope in the midst of hopelessness
I’ve heard it said that the most meaningless statistic in all of sports is the halftime score. I can think of several instances where this has been proven correct — just ask the Atlanta Falcons! In a similar way, it would have been a mistake to judge Jesus’ life and ministry based on Holy Saturday. It looked like all hope was lost. I imagine the disciples were wondering what on earth they were supposed to do now. Perhaps they spent the day in a mix of mourning and peeking out the windows to make sure the authorities weren’t coming for them next. But the story wasn’t over — far from it!
I’ve seen many churches who think all hope is lost for them. The attendance is too low. The bills are too high. The facilities are too rundown. The community is too lost. But the hope of the gospel reminds us that God loves to bring dead and dying things back to life! The resurrection story shows us that, even when all hope seems lost, that often is not the case at all.
The resurrected Lord reigns over His church. If we will repent and follow His plans, He can bless our churches in many ways. He could very well be at work right now to breathe new life into your church, in countless ways you don’t even see right now.
From death to life
One of the key themes throughout Scripture is that God loves to bring back to life what was once dead or dying. We see it in Ezekiel 37’s valley of dry bones. We see it through the countless miracles Jesus performed. And, of course, we see it most clearly on Easter Sunday morning.
The remarkable thing about each of these instances is that God does what only God can do, so only God can get the glory. The same is true of the way he rescues dying churches. He often comes through in ways only He can, so no human church leader or member can claim the credit. He does things in such a way so there is no question of how it happened: “This came from the Lord; it is wondrous in our sight” (Ps. 118:23).
So, pastor or church member, rejoice in the resurrection of Christ. Ultimately, that is where our hope lies as followers of Christ. It’s also where hope lies for those crying out desperately for the Lord to reclaim His glory in our churches!
Published April 9, 2021