There are some churches with great vitality in our nation.  That is awesome.  But most of you who read this, if you happen to go to church, are a part of a congregation that struggles.  Welcome to the 21st century American religious reality.

It is mind boggling how quickly the spiritual climate has changed.  Fifty years ago, there was cultural peer pressure to be a part of a faith community.  Now the pressure is exactly the opposite.  When I was a child, I remember my parents saying that they would never frequent this one business because the family didn’t participate in a church.  How strange that memory now seems to me.

Today my heart breaks for the leaders in our church, the folks who love Jesus and his people.  I see so many leaders tempted to just give up.  I see others who are stymied and frustrated, feeling they have nothing left to try.

Then I look to Jesus and hear his call to take up one’s cross.  I am still free to follow him without threat of death.  Yet the temptation is for us leaders to get caught up in the world’s evaluation.  To me, taking up a cross in our culture is to never give up, to always be faithful in taking the next step of faith.  That is the goal of ministry and the determination of success for the kingdom of God.

The call always has been and always will be to make disciples.  We water, and we plant.  Then the Holy Spirit works on the heart, eyes, and ears.  Are you living your faith in the context of a disinterested culture?  If so, I believe you will hear the words one day: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

So don’t give up.  Pray.  Read the Bible.  Go find people in need of the Great Physician.  Love them.  Befriend them.  But please don’t quit because it’s hard.  Remember the cross.

One of the cool things about God is that he moves in the midst of community.  You are not alone.  That is the reason we at The Effective Church Group love to establish coaching relationships with people.  We take up our crosses together with the support of God’s powerful presence.

May God bless your ministry and give you the strength to answer his call for this day.