I know. I have been a spokesman for gloom and doom of the local church. I've even written a book about church autopsies—not necessarily a topic of hope and joy.
There have, however, been reasons for my notes of caution and pessimism. First, we must face facts if we are to do something about them. We can't expect to move forward if we have our metaphorical heads in the sand.
Such is the reason I wrote a book on church deaths. Second, the negative situation I have described is a reality. It would not demonstrate integrity if I said something differently.
But, in the midst of the gloomy facts, I remain an obnoxious optimist about local congregations. I do believe there is a very good possibility that we won't go the way of many other places that have seen the decline of churches to the point of irrelevance.
Allow me to share twelve reasons why I remain hopeful.
1. Leaders in congregations are demonstrating a willingness to face reality. They are no longer playing games as if everything is okay. We must face the facts as we seek God's power to do something about them.
2. Prayer movements are developing in many churches. These movements are typically more spontaneous than planned. When God's people start praying, revival has already begun.
3. Both church planting and church revitalization are being emphasized. These two emphases have historically been viewed as competitive with one another. Today, more church leaders see them as complementary and vital. That is good.
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