As the training for a group of leaders in Arizona was coming to a close, one of the senior leaders sitting in the back asked me two questions that hushed the room: “Where do you think the American church will be in 50-100 years?... Is there any hope?”
This leader was not losing his faith. He was just weary and in need of refreshment. I suspect many others in the room were quietly wondering the same thing.
With little hesitation, I told him that I have no idea where the church will be in 50-100 years. But as for hope, my reply was, “Absolutely!” I shared briefly how the resurrection of Christ changes everything. In God’s providence, I had a friend traveling with me who is the leader of a large network of underground churches in China. I asked him to comment on hope from his vantage point, and he shared how the church leaders in China counted it an honor to suffer for the sake of Christ because they saw the Spirit continually bringing new life in great hardship. Some in the room later told me that his testimony was the most faith-building part of the entire evening!
The church leaders in China counted it an honor to suffer for the sake of Christ because they saw the Spirit continually bringing new life in great hardship.
These are difficult times, but I am convinced that in Christ, every death leads to resurrection. Not only because Scripture teaches this, but also because we at seeJesus are personally witnessing it in many small but significant ways. I’m noticing two common marks of the Spirit that seem to be increasing in the church both here and abroad:
- Greater desire to pray. Pastors have been reaching out to seeJesus for help. In the past few months, I’ve done in-person A Praying Life trainings in Phoenix, Anchorage, and New York with more to come in Spokane and Las Vegas. What is striking to me is not just the variety of places where the Spirit is stirring but the depth in which he is moving. Many churches want multiple trainings in hopes that prayer will seep into the DNA of the entire church. There seems to be a collective yearning for the Spirit to move at the center of his church.
- Greater hunger for Jesus. At the end of last year, there was a growing number of pastors in Japan who wanted training in The Person of Jesus (POJ) study. After many setbacks in our plans, the online training finally happened in April, and somehow it grew to include leaders from Hong Kong, Taipei, Manila, and LA as well! The most delightful part of the training was seeing people genuinely enjoy Jesus and wanting to know him more. You can’t program that, it’s the Spirit’s work! There are currently missionaries and pastors leading POJ studies in Japan who hope to translate the entire study into Japanese.
While there are still great challenges that face the global Church, God is deepening faith and increasing love in the hearts of his people. It’s not always easy or fast, but it is quite marvelous and fun. Is there any hope? In Christ, absolutely! Resurrection is guaranteed!