Skip to content

Brethren Part I – A time to Mourn

by on June 22, 2014

Ecclesiastes three says that there is a time for everything.

1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
2 A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
7 A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
8 A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

This is a time to mourn. For the Brethren, it is a time to mourn. I have been Brethren all my life. My family on both sides has been Brethren for many generations.

Which Brethren am I? Not sure. Maybe, as I.N.H. Beahm said, “we are Brethren.” He was loath to accept the divisions among the Brethren. He was just Brethren. That seemed to be enough for him. What would he say today? He attended the annual meetings of several Brethren groups. Would he do that today?

All Brethren groups are in decline. None are growing. That in a time when some Anabaptist groups are growing rapidly. Some groups are doubling every twenty years. The Brethren are in decline. Why? Does anyone care? Does it matter? Why are people leaving? Why are the youth not staying? Where is the leadership?

It is a time to mourn. Maybe that is the place to start – To get on our faces and confess and repent and cry out to God.
It is time to cry out: for mercy, for pardon, for forgiveness, for love, for wisdom, for discernment, for the Holy Spirit, for grace, for freedom from bondage….
It is time to confess: arrogance, pride, lack of faithfulness, worldliness, politics, lack of Bible study, lack of prayer, lack of worship….

It is a time to mourn for heartbreak.
Congregations not able to get along with each other.
Congregations closing for lack of members.
Congregations I remember as thriving, large, fellowships, now closed.
Congregations with youth eager for life, now silent.
Closed. Why?

Where are the leaders? Life rises and falls on leadership. Where is the leadership? Has God withheld it from us? Where are the Bible teachers? Has God not provided them for us? Where is the wisdom? Has God not given it to us? Where is the conviction? Has God not convicted us of truth?

Did God include us in Ephesians 4:11? Did He give us apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to equip the saints, and edify the body and bring us to the unity of the faith? Where are they? Where are those gifts to bring us to knowledge and to a perfect man?

Where are the fathers who will raise up a generation to follow them and God? Where are the mothers to raise children to be God fearing Christ followers and church members?

Where are the youth I knew growing up? Where have they gone? Where is the conviction and the purpose of heart to be God’s people? How have we lost so much? It is a time to mourn.

Congregations are closing and more will close. Why? Is all this inevitable? Can anything be done? Does it matter? Does anyone care?

The Old German Baptist Brethren have divided.
The Old Brethren have divided.
The Dunkard Brethren are struggling.
The conservative Church of the Brethren congregations are struggling.
Attempts at revival have been short-circuited repeatedly.

We are still telling ourselves that we are doing fine. Why?

Part II – Why are the Brethren struggling?

Part III – Is there a way back?

Comments are closed.