THE FUTURE IS NOW: FROM PREDICTED CHURCH DECLINE TO THE PREDICTED GREAT AWAKENING

 

Real Christianity

       

      I began the early research of Real Christianity, The Nature of the Church, in 1992. The Lord told me then what the future would be. That future is now coming to pass.

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       Mine was a voice that got it right. The book is a record from the past correctly foreseeing the future. Though soundly rejected at the time, including by the leadership of my own fellowship that I was dutifully supporting per the Lord’s will, the Lord revealed to me why the disintegration of traditional Christianity in America would not only continue but accelerate. If you’re into prophecy and possibly followed the major prophecy teachers of that time who never saw the Great Awakening coming, the following passage from my book may interest you. It was originally drafted almost twenty-five years ago:

         “If the ruling clergy class has been mandated by Jesus to be the movers and shakers of His teachings in this country, it has apparently messed up. Whatever guilt they do carry they steadfastly refuse to acknowledge, which makes correction impossible. This is why God is removing them—they refuse to act wholly on His behalf. And if you don’t think this is true, that they’re becoming history, check the stats. Their numbers are dwindling in this country, while the numbers of “nobodies” who simply want to do God’s will are rising dramatically. Will America be saved? No. But when certain people get out of the way and other people mature en masse, hundreds of thousands of hungry souls will find salvation, and America’s greatest great awakening will take place.” [1]

         There has been tremendous transformation, much Christian turmoil, and great spiritual warfare over the last quarter century. Many never understood the long term goal or supported it and preferred a dying status quo. This always happens in the early stages of reform and correction. Because there remain many disaffected Christians with dubious resumes and axes to grind, and by which people may judge yours truly, I am listing the following aspects of my overall profile to demonstrate a solid career church attendance and participation record, not to crow about accomplishments but to illustrate my dedication and faithfulness to the Lord. I spent many years as a dutiful church-going Christian attending untold numbers of church services and related assemblies. I bought into the program. I honored authority. I gave it my best. You might say I paid my dues. At one time or another I participated in pretty much every church-related and non-church related volunteer (non-paying) ministry task there was, including the following:

  1. Extensive street witnessing
  2. Wide-ranging personal evangelism and counseling
  3. Church follow up and visitor chauffeuring
  4. Sunday School recruiting director and bus driver
  5. Church seasonal program participant (multiple)
  6. Church seasonal program carpenter and set builder
  7. Church building remodeling
  8. Church property maintenance
  9. Usher (church and major offsite productions)
  10. Church softball coach and team builder
  11. Church services recording engineer
  12. Choir
  13. Post service prayer counselor and altar worker
  14. Pulpit preacher
  15. Group Bible Study teacher
  16. Home Group leader
  17. House church creator and director
  18. And much more

        I also engaged in extensive personal Bible study, reading, and research, becoming familiar not only with Scripture but also secular and historical knowledge relating to Scripture for use in witnessing and teaching. As I grew more knowledgeable I inevitably began discovering the differences between how churches and ministries were conducting themselves in relation to how our spiritual forebears did things in the beginning of the Lord’s Community. These differences fell into three principle categories: (1) Church Doctrine, (2) Church Format, (3) Ministerial Authority.

         Though some Christians reach the point I did, most of these apparently come to the conclusion that the departure from original norms was justified, most likely due to their investment in church culture and an unwillingness to attempt reform. I did the opposite. I believed in and fully supported the original teachings of the Lord and the apostles. And though I tried to maintain excellent relations with church authority (a notoriously challenging endeavor) and most often succeeded, I began attempting dialogue on the many new issues I discovered. Most ministers would acknowledge the differences of course, but never go beyond any elementary attempt to apply correctives. Most never did anything. Because I had to tell what I knew and teach what the Lord taught me, open ministry doors began to close. I had to find another venue. This is when I began to write. Long before I wrote my first book I wrote many notes and detailed Bible studies, and recorded extensive research. I had to get what I knew on paper. It was a lonely pursuit but was such as it had to be.

         I continually discovered that ministers in general were not interested in anything non-relatable to their personal beliefs, doctrinal statements, and church formats. Nor were they interested in greater truth or returning to our roots if it meant anything related to actual change. Most saw such reform efforts as entirely inappropriate at best and that they bordered on rebellion or heresy. Their attitude was often based on a fear of personal disruption and inevitable church problems. They insisted everyone in the congregation must buy into the program and remain in that place to assure church success, or something substantial, including their job, may suffer. I also discovered that the majority of church goers simply do not care about reform or doings things God’s way. Most Christians prefer to remain relatively spiritually unaware and allow their chosen leaders and authority figures to do their work for them. Many remain statically fixed on the teachings of mainline theologians and authors of the past or become swayed by flashy speakers and writers of the present. They end up trusting them instead of the Lord Jesus and often never progress beyond an elementary level. They are thus exceptionally easy to manipulate and make real revival impossible.

         This is in part why the Lord began telling me what would eventually happen to such churches and ministries in America. He began showing me the future. I tried my best to warn people. Few ever listened. Thus, what has happened to churches since, and it has only been a quarter century, has come to pass exactly as I was shown way back then, and even before that. The latest statistics, seemingly unbelievable as they are, are such that approximately 6,000 to 10,000 churches in America are dying each year on average. That’s about 100-150 per week.

        The above author cites no research but another quite reputable source, Church Leadership, claims that 4000 churches were dying annually in 2007. That was an average of 77 per week. If those trends held it would certainly account for 100-150 closures per week at present. Because the majority of traditional Christians in the past never progressed, noticed the trends, or heeded the warnings, but instead fought off any reform effort as if it was the enemy, most of their venues were unprepared for the vast American cultural change that began emerging about thirty years ago.

THE LAST BECOME FIRST

         They also didn’t understand that a powerful new group, very small in numbers at the time, was being formed by the Lord to usher in a new generation of reform in order to bring His full teachings to the fore. This group was composed largely of unconnected individuals who suffered various levels of persecution by their own brothers, much like the patriarch Joseph. The traditionalists also did not care that the new emerging generation of younger people wanted more than simply being told to come to church, to sit in church, to stay quiet in church, to go along with the church program with no questions asked, to participate only superficially in church, and to pay church tithes to support something they couldn’t wrap their heart around. Many of us in the prior generation did all that for many years but never received the full benefits we were striving for. We trusted in and respected an authority that ultimately proved itself to be cowardly and non-spiritually responsive. The next generation, however, had less church influence and were largely never indoctrinated to stoically accept things as they were and dutifully comply with a set-up that did little or nothing for their heart.

         This is in part why America now has an extremely large population of people with no religious affiliation. It is also why the long-standing American church tradition is fading rapidly. Traditional churches have no answer for this. Their programs no longer work. Many churches have become infested with cultural rot yet still refuse the Biblical directive. Many others have tried ever more watered-down programs but those don’t work either. Such efforts are actually going in the opposite direction.

THE RISE OF THE NEVER CHURCH CULTURE

          The young religiously unaffiliated Americans are categorized as the nones. According to the following article, Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion—and Why they’re Unlikely to Come Back, in 1991, the year before the Lord called on me to begin my first book, the nones represented a mere 6% of the American population. In 1972 it represented 5%. There was a slight rise in the 1980s. Thus, in the 19 year period of 1972 to 1991, this small religiously unaffiliated subsection of the American populace ranged only from 5%-8% and stayed relatively stable. It was not until 1993 that the nones began an upward track on the graph. By 1996 their numbers had shot up to 12%, doubling its population of only five years before. This marked 1992 as the year of demarcation, the very year I began my book. This was not a coincidence. It was the year that American Christianity began changing dramatically.

         According to the quoted source, the nones increased to 14% in 1998 and remained stable until 2004. But then it promptly rocketed rapidly upward, ballooning to a whopping 25% by 2016. After only 24 years since the pivotal year of 1992, their number had astonishingly grown fourfold. This is the same time period that churches in general engaged in a rapid die off. There is presently no end in sight to this phenomenon and any applied remedy of the present is for the most part too late. This changing church landscape is an obvious fast-happening disaster for those who wrongly decided years ago to stay in spiritual Egypt or the Sinai. Currently, the religiously unaffiliated represent almost one in four Americans. The church world is now suffering major loss with no cure yet it still obstinately refuses to change and get in line with what the Lord wants to do. Because they have been rejecting the corrective for decades, they don’t have a clue how to stop the process and their destruction continues.

         Most continue to blame it on the sinful culture, a ridiculous notion that only proves their ineffectiveness, irrelevance, and spiritual laziness. They obviously don’t know what the early believers faced regarding a sinful societal culture or they simply refuse to acknowledge it. The Roman Empire world of the first century was such that most church-going Americans, if transported in time, would be shocked to their core at what they saw. It was a thoroughly lost and wicked culture reveling in gross idolatry. But the early Church thrived anyway against powerful odds. The gist is that the Lord can do anything, anywhere, and wants to. He wants people free from sin and spiritual bondage! It seems that His greatest effort, however, is simply trying to find people who will honor Him and join His cause. Most of those who refer to themselves as Christians in some form or another simply refuse to obey and follow Him. They invent their own low wattage Christian hybrids and substitute these for the real thing.

WHAT ABOUT REAL CHRISTIANITY?

        Conversely, remember that small, persecuted, obscure, and rejected group that existed a quarter century ago? Well, with this group something quite different has happened. As dead churches died off it has grown exponentially. Churches may be shutting down by 150 per week on average but real Christians have gone in the opposite direction. Real Christianity is on the rise. For those paying attention who are close to the Lord, this is obvious. Though most of these real believers are effectively invisible, their effect is not. It reminds me of unseen, unknown prayer warriors who do their work in obscurity. The non-believing American culture has certainly gone in the tank and grows more sickeningly depraved every day due to no checks on its behavior, but these people are now losing the cultural battle. They had the world by the tail until about two or three years ago but now their paradigm is suffering major cracks and is on a downward slide. They are also beginning the inevitable historical process of destroying one another.

         Thus, a new American culture is emerging, based on the old ways, the ancient paths, and the foundations fought for and won in a righteous revolutionary battle 240 years ago. Real Christians are returning to their roots, following the Lord in big numbers and are undoubtedly affecting the culture in a positive way. It is a movement based on discovering, establishing, and standing up for the truth. These people are meeting and advancing in the same style as their early forebears—behind the scenes, in small non-descript venues of any number of forms and variety, and also through the greatest invention and change agent in human history—the internet. The World Wide Web is directly comparable with the advent of the Gutenberg Printing Press of circa 1450. That remarkable invention dramatically changed the world and ushered in the modern period. It allowed for an immense increase of knowledge and communication which led to the Protestant Reformation and the Age of Enlightenment. What happened then is happening now but on a much larger scale. The world is waking up.

        I encourage all of you to stay faithful and strong. These times are largely unprecedented and we are greatly blessed to be alive and involved in whatever work the Lord has called us to do.

POSTSCRIPT  

          For those of you reading this, especially my faithful readers, please be informed that a spiritual attack against this site is apparently in process. I started this blog in May of 2011. Readership grew steadily. 2018 was a record year. January of 2019 was a record for that month. Then something happened which caused the site to become somewhat invisible as confirmed by some of you.

         In general, Christian reform efforts are always opposed by the status quo and I have been personally quite familiar with this over many years. Yet the Lord is always faithful. Real Christianity, The Nature of the Church has had a decided impact on those who heard the message and supported it but was otherwise rejected by the majority. I could tell you some seriously shocking stories of underhanded efforts by so-called Christians, but this is nothing new. It is par for the course. My first book was far ahead of its time but the message inherent within it is timeless and remains fresh, especially now. It is thus a message for today and can assist in sorting out what has happened in the transformation of American Christianity over the last quarter century. For more information you can go to my author page here. I ask only for your prayers. There is much work to be done. Thank you and be blessed.    

         © 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.      


[1] From Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church © 2001 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.]

 

Posted on February 13, 2019, in Current Events and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. In your experience, what original Scriptural teachings are being most neglected by static and ineffective churches?

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    • In general, the teachings of the Lord Jesus with reference to the transforming spiritual experience of the early Church. Everything He taught in some way projected what would eventually manifest in the Acts record. It was no mere happenstance, for example, that Luke wrote both a gospel and the Book of Acts. These two works illustrated a clear connection between the gospels and early Church history that only much later became an impassable gulf. We see a clear foundational message in Acts 2. That first message delivered by Peter was prototypical in both the explanation he gave using prophetic Scripture for what just occurred but also in what he instructed the 3000 to do in order to get right with God and fulfill their new birth experience. It is the manifest presence of the Lord that is lacking in many churches that makes them ineffective and at least less than they could be. Many other groups, on the other hand, regardless of formats, do all they can to invite His presence. They want Him to be in charge. They want to serve Him and be what He created them to be and fulfill their callings.

      Thanks for the question, Brandon. Be blessed.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank RJ, a great post! I appreciate all that you do! Abundant blessings, my friend✨💛

    Like

  3. Reblogged this on Richard's Watch and commented:
    RJ’s interesting conclusions are worth keeping in mind because of the timing of this and consternation arising from Clifford Hill’s comments about Wembley Day of Prayer.

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  4. Thank you Richard. I greatly appreciate the reblog. As we know from many examples in Scripture, the prior generation and the emerging generation often have conflicts with regard to the Lord’s direction and coming spiritual events. The Lord will have His way. Blessings to you.

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  5. Do you think part of the problem is that many true Christians are afraid to use their spiritual gifts? It seems to me that many of the successful groups I have seen around the world are obedient in both physical and supernatural things.

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    • Most Christians don’t even know if they have any gifts or what spiritual gifts are. It is thus not so much because Christians are afraid to use them but simply not having them to use. For those who do have them there should never be any fear of using them unless their use brings some kind of penalty, which implies limitations upon their use from Christian authority. The early Community of the Lord was greatly successful because of their use of the gifts, which use was universal in the beginning. Doing the work the Lord has called us to do is impossible without them. When the use of spiritual gifts declines or is non-existent, spiritual effectiveness also declines or does not exist. This explains in part why many traditional Christian expressions are failing.

      Regarding what they are, and to eliminate any confusion or later interpolation, spiritual gifts must be defined by the New Covenant writings. Second, spiritual gifts are given or activated by one’s new birth experience as defined within the Book of Acts. The apostle Paul goes into relatively great detail on what these gifts are, how they function, and what their purpose is operationally within the Lord’s Community. Romans chapter 12 gives us seven distinctive gifts which may be termed motivational. Each believer is given at least one of these which functions predominantly. Paul reveals more detail on the overall operation of various aspects of the gifts within ministry in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 14.

      The use of spiritual gifts is foreign in many if not most Christian denominations and groups, which obviously indicates a lack of their presence. Some believe that gifts are given at birth and are later activated upon one’s new birth. Others believe gifts are given only upon one’s new birth. What is most important is that believers actually experience a new birth, which the Lord said was mandatory. The new birth can only be defined, however, by the Lord’s initial teachings and by the historical record of His teachings in His original Community in the mid-first century AD.

      When Christians operate according to the original model great things happen. All Christians and Christian groups must strive to emulate the beliefs and practices of the original believers in order to have the same astounding spiritual success they had.

      Thanks for the comment, Nicholas. Be blessed.

      Liked by 1 person

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