2/22/10

The Church's Lukewarm Trend

Redefining Christianity on the World's Turf
By: Jonathan Harris

Sometimes I have to wonder, “What’s the church’s problem?” No I don’t mean your church or my church specifically – I mean the universal church. What are we doing wrong? And how do we fix whatever it is? According to my observation I believe the church has consistently mimicked, joins forces with, or accepted the standards of the world. We’ve been catering to the wrong crowd for so long, we’ve forgotten who we are, and who wants to join a group which lacks an identity? Let me give you a couple examples which have lead me to this conclusion.

Music

The Christian music industry formed in the early 70s as the result of the “Jesus Movement.” It was supposed to be a way for Christians to impact the world by attracting younger audiences to their message by means of, ironically, mimicking the world. I don’t see a Scriptural prohibition against Christians who want to play rock music as a means to evangelize, but why does it have to be in a “special” genre? It seems like the whole “In the world but not of the world” has been flipped around to mean “Of the world but not in the world.” The only “Christian” songs that even make it to secular markets are the ones which aren’t exactly Christian. Turn on any Christian Contemporary Music station and you’re liable to hear a watered down feminine version of Christianity constantly redefining itself to copy-cat whatever happens to be popular in the world at the time. I’m not advocating a total recall on every “Christian” artist or song – but I am trying to point out that there’s a bad trend out there we should be aware of. I've been to multiple concerts featuring at least eight leading "CCM" bands and have not heard the Gospel proclaimed even once. Christian television has pretty much gone the same way. What use to be on “secular” stations has now ghettoized itself into TBN and the like, changed its message to be more in line with the world’s way of thinking (think emergent, prosperity gospel, and positivism), and lost its potency. Art, according to Francis Schaeffer, is a reflection of society. What will the history books say (if they say anything) in a hundred years about Western Christianity based on our artwork from the current period? Most likely it will be something like this: “A dying religion adjusts and redefines itself to become more acceptable in the eyes of a greater audience, and in so doing loses its true identity which subsequently leads to its demise as a formidable faith in the Western world.”

Evangelism

Evangelistic efforts have changed as well. I’ve noticed from personal observation that the default method of evangelism (if Christians decide to do it at all) is what’s commonly referred to as “lifestyle evangelism.” People who advocate it are fond of saying things like “Share Jesus through the way you live” and “Meet people where they’re at.” Indeed, I suppose I can consider myself a convert to this way of thinking through my early to mid teens. Again, just like within Christian music, there’s nothing inherently wrong with living a good life and trying to get people curious about Christ through personal interaction, but this should not be confused with evangelism. Evangelism is actively making disciples of Jesus Christ. Sharing the Gospel with friends and actively discipling them is great. Sharing the Gospel with complete strangers is also great. Yes, even open-air preaching is great. Jesus and the Apostles did all of these things, but they never just went about their daily business thinking that somehow they were fulfilling the great commission through living an honest life. An honest life can lead to opportunities, but it is not the opportunity in and of itself. The tragedy is most people just use “lifestyle evangelism” as an excuse to keep their mouth shut about their faith under the guise of sharing their faith through their life. This, I can safely say, is wrong.

Politics

As a young “political junkie” I have to question, “Surely, there must be a political trend which corresponds to these sociological changes?” and in fact there is. A growing number of evangelicals support same-sex marriage or don’t think it important in contrast with issues like the economy. While most young evangelicals are pro-life, they don’t place a high priority on it, and are willing to vote for a “pro-choice” candidate. Obama himself received a third of the young evangelical vote, while John Kerry only received 16%. Popular Christian leaders like Rick Warren who focus more on global poverty than abortion and same-sex marriage are having their affect. Issues of basic morality on all levels are seen to be “divisive” and therefore “not important” as an essential element of conviction. Jesus did not preach the supreme virtue of tolerance, so why live as if he did?

Result

Based on these three observations alone I think I can safely say it’s no wonder that younger evangelicals aren’t having much of an affect on campuses. I mean, why should they? They’ve been force-fed a pathetic weakened faith their entire life. Their version of Christianity is more consistent with emergent youth leaders and lukewarm singers than it is with the puritans, reformers, and apostles. When over half of all pastors are viewing pornography, and a third of all "born again" Christians think sexual explicit material in entertainment is somehow "Ok," there's an underlying problem. The observational surface trends are merely the results of a secret pandemic. Most "Christians" aren't Christians, and the ones that are are missing a backbone. Still there is hope out there. It’s time’s like these that something big happens. Either Christians wake up and purge their churches of mediocrity by preaching the offensive truth like in China, or the church dies from within as was the case in Nazi Germany and Marxist Russia. Only God’s Spirit can ultimately better the situation, we can help by siding with Him and not our culture.

5 comments:

  1. Interesting blog. I agree with your take on the CCM industry.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The problems in society are directly related to the weakness of the church in actually following our Lord Jesus Christ. Good blog in pointing out some of the ways the church has given way to the influence of secular society. Paul called for us to "not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). The American Church as whole has failed in that quest.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good stuff. Many in the church believe the church is losing members and becoming irrelevant because there is too much emphasis on repentance, and actually living life like a Christian. I think the opposite is true. The church is becoming so much like the world that it will soon no longer be a sanctuary from the world.

    "NO COMPROMISE is what the whole GOSPEL OF JESUS is all about...In Matt 6:24 Jesus says, 'For I tell you...No Man can serve Two Masters...' In a day when Believers seem to be trying to PLEASE Both the WORLD and the LORD (which is an Impossible thing), when people are Far more Concerned about Offending their FRIENDS than Offending GOD, there is only ONE ANSWER... DENY YOURSELF, TAKE UP YOUR CROSS & FOLLOW HIM (JESUS)!" Luke 9:23-24
    ~ Keith Green

    ReplyDelete
  4. Couldn't agree more Steve. Thanks for commenting!

    ReplyDelete
  5. For some time now I've wanted to do the old fashioned door to door evangelizing. Every week I sat in Bible study Sunday mornings listening to the deacon who taught,talk about sharing our faith. One Sunday he showed a clip from a sermon, it depicted all those who would go to hell if we didn't do something. I got so angry, because I had already at other times alluded to the fact that "I WANT TO DO THIS, GEE I WISH I HAD A CHURCH ON BOARD TO HELP ME",I pointed out that Jesus sent them out in two's, they were trained and ready to go. He got indignant and said "we all have opportunities to share our faith such as if we're in a restaurant, food shopping, ect. That I was making excuses. Basically he was saying "NO, he wasn't interested, I was on my own. A woman eventually did come out with me and we did do the door to door thing. It was great. We did it twice, and i can't wait to do it again. I pray they will see, that's the whole point. We go to church, prayer meeting, Bible studies, committees,on and on. Do we think that the whole point is how do we get closer to Jesus FOR US? For our comfort, our peace, or salvation. Oh brother, I'll stop, sorry and thanks for letting me vent.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...