"Shattered glass will be crushed, melted and remade into one."
It seems today that Christianity is on the way out. Churches are losing their members. Fewer people consider themselves Christian in the developed world. And fewer who do are engaged in church life. People feel disillusioned about Christianity. Its not uncommon to see people blame Christianity for society's ills, and Christians are deemed to be too judgmental. The response from Christians to all the anti-Christian sentiments popping up has either been weak or nonexistent. Those outside the church are increasingly hostile to it, and those inside the church are passive. The claims of Christianity are less believed, and the claims against Christianity are more believed. Welcome to the post-Christian world.
Or is it?
I do not actually believe that Christianity is over. Its a time of testing and falling away for Christianity; there's no doubt about that. But it will ultimately result in the resurrection of a new Christian Church, younger and stronger. In short, I believe its a good thing that Christians must fight to defend their faith, both for themselves and in the culture. Let me explain what I mean.
I'll start with the why. People are not attached to their churches. I mean those who still go to church. Its a habit, its a tradition, but its not a passion. In fact, for most its really just a chore. Even people who go to church do not always want to go to church. They feel obligated; they feel like they're not doing what they should as a Christian if they don't. This does not bode well for the Christian Church, and I'll tell you why. There's no point in having zombie Christians - half dead, half alive - and that's what most churches are. There's no creative thinking. There's no "what can we do?", or "let's try this," or "why do we still do this?". Instead there is a general following of the norm, continuing with the established traditions, or even worse, a following of some shallow trend. What I mean to say is that there's no life; there's no mental activity that wants the church to be active and involved in the community. Or there's no mental activity that wants the church to satisfy deep spiritual desires.
Now don't get me wrong. I am a conservative in a sense. I am a hardcore Bible-believer. The idea of making church more appealing by compromising biblical truth, particularly with the homosexual issue, is disastrous. It is one of the causes of church decline. But let's be real: even though these churches are losing their members now, they have already lost the spiritual mark of Christianity long ago. Again, it doesn't bother me that they lose their members; I would rather the church die than for a zombie church to continue in the name of Jesus while teaching lies.
Getting back to the point, I'll mention a few examples. We live in a digital age. Of course the church should not be about getting people's money (and that's another thing that needs to change), but instead of passing an offering plate, why do churches not have an option for giving online by credit card? If I don't keep much cash, and I no longer use checks (both are true), then it would be impossible for me to give in most churches. This is such an obvious thing. Any church whose members are alive in Christ would certainly want to modernize the church's operations. And it makes perfect sense to do away with the offering plate, since Christianity was never supposed to be about collecting tithes (an OT theme) anyway. The point is, most churches are a reflection of tradition ("we've always done it this way") rather than a refection of Christ and the gospel. So either a person loves Christ and feels disgusted by how halfway and Christianese churches have become, or a person is contently sitting in the pews and has never really known Christ or what He is about.
Or what about Sunday school? Sunday school has died at least 10 or 20 years ago. It may have been a great idea when churches first started doing it. But today it is just a waste of time and energy, and the only reason churches do it is - again - tradition. If a certain program or activity is not bearing good fruit, why do it? Why continue something just for the sake of continuing it? Spiritually speaking, Sunday school is dead. If its meant for the kids, its only one day a week, and it only excuses parents from teaching their children biblical principles the other 6 days. If its meant for adults... well, its clearly not meant for adults, because the only adults who attend are the ones who bring their children to Sunday school. So its already dead in a spiritual sense, it just keeps on living as an outward show of respect for the conventional church. It is a hollow shell; why not ditch it and come up with new activities that are more relevant, exciting and will produce good fruit?
These are some of the causes coming from the churches themselves. And that's most of the reason our culture (in the developed/western world) has become increasingly non-Christian. The rest is just like a domino effect. Once people no longer feel attached to their churches. Once people are no longer convinced of the Bible's veracity, because their faith was never strengthened by apologetics in the first place, then the rest is automatic. Its easy to rebel against the past. Its natural to want to tear down the monoliths of our parents. If one starts at the church doors, without ever having known the true beauty of Christianity, there's only one way to run: away. So the culture is running away from Christianity and rebelling against it.
But that's not the end of it. Christianity has a way of repeatedly dying and coming back to life (much like the resurrection of Jesus). There will always be people who hunger and thirst for truth and God. They will ultimately make their own churches; not based on the model of tradition, but based on a model that works. They will do church in a way that fulfills their spiritual desires, that journeys deep, that engages the culture boldly, that invests in the community. It will not look like any church you've ever known, and it will be beautiful. New wine does not belong in old wineskins.
- ► 2012 (31)
- Brent Heatwole
- Unimpressive in person. But always praying that these letters I write will be weighty and forceful. I serve the Almighty as a servant of Christ. I strive to conquer hearts and minds with the word of God. I am nothing, but the Holy Spirit living inside me is omnipotent. By Him I can run and not grow weary, or walk and not be faint. All glory and honor be to God and to Jesus the Christ.