I’ve been a pastor for ten years. During the last decade, there have been countless blogs, books, and articles talking about how the church is in decline. I’ve also read a lot from people in my generation who are writing off the church altogether for a variety of reasons.

While there is no perfect church, and churches no longer hold the central place in the culture they once did, I’m incredibly optimistic about the future of the church. Not just the church I pastor, I believe churches all across the country have an incredible opportunity.

I realize this is just a reflection on my experience, but in the last six months, we have seen numerous people come to our church for the first time. I get a chance to meet a lot of them and I love those conversations.

I’m always curious to know how they heard about our church and what initially brought them in. If they are a repeat guest, I’ll ask what caused them to come back.

The more of these conversations I have, the more stories I hear about people either re-engaging with the church after having been on a bit of a hiatus or they’re exploring Jesus and the church for the first time. No matter what their previous church experience has been, people keep telling me that what they’ve appreciated about our church is the authenticity of the people and our expression of worship.

I don’t write this as a boast or brag about our church, but rather as a reflection that there are many people out there who are craving an authentic and real spiritual experience. Based on the conversations that I’m having with people, there are those who are taking stock of their own lives and starting to ask deep questions about what they are experiencing and whether or not there is more to life.

This greatly encourages me. There is a ripe harvest field. There is a generation of people who are seeking and wanting to know what’s real. So before we give up on the church altogether, remember what Paul writes in Philippians 1:6, “That he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” That’s not only true of individuals, it’s also true of the church.

Maybe as a culture, and even the body of Christ, we’ve given up on the church, but God certainly hasn’t. And for me, that’s all I need to know.