Before I go further, I should probably start with where I am now.

I love my church. I love it with a special love I can honestly say I have never had for any congregation I have been a part of. I am absolutely certain that for the last year there has been nothing short of a divine mandate that this be the community of faith I worship and labor with. It is where I have been called.

But sometimes I hate my church.

It is slowly and surely dying, and no matter how much the members pray for revival, both our numbers and spiritual fortitude continue to fall. I’m not sure how many would be willing to admit to the level of frustration I feel, but it’s easy enough to notice that the congregation has dwindled down to half its size of three years ago, and I’m pretty sure just about everyone feels the ache I feel. Something is decidedly missing, and something is definitely wrong.

Everyone from the pastor, our lone elder and the one deacon down know that something that should be there is not, and no one can identify it. The church is solidly evangelical, and yet it is missing that very important core, a fiery evangelical heart. I’m not talking about charismatic zeal, but about radical, infectious discipleship.

Even the youth pastor recently admitted, in front of the congregation, that he was ashamed to invite people to church. Ouch.

Cornerstone Church got its start as a house church, but it moved into a storefront and eventually built its present location in just a few years. At one time, the congregation numbered in the hundreds, but there was a split over some issue — I’ve heard it had something to do with children’s ministry — in the early to mid-1990s. The congregation that stayed numbered in the dozens, and ever since then has been in decline until now, with about 17 regularly attending adult members, counting a couple of the youth.

Until about a year ago, there were dozens of youth attending the church, most of who don’t come from church-going families. That’s dwindled down to about six on a really good Wednesday night.

The church has also seen a number of members simply fall away. Two of our most promising youth went from almost obnoxious fire to complete non-attendance in a matter of about two weeks. Other members have had serious personal problems, and rather than face the church or face their problems in light of what the church can offer, they’ve stopped coming.

We still meet on Sundays and gather together for corporate worship, which is sometimes meaningful and sometimes rote. (Maybe that’s just me, but I have a sneaking suspicion it’s not.) Wednesday nights focus strictly on children’s discipleship classes, which have had some surprisingly good results in the last year.

But on the whole, something is missing.

I could point fingers, but I bet I am as much a part of the problem as anyone else.

Now we have to figure out the problem.