I know, just the title of this blog sets me up as a target, but I think it’s worth it to tell the truth, at least from my perspective of the truth.
Christianity in America is either doing ok, really well, or near death’s door. If you read and accept as gospel everything that the bad-news Barna research group does, you’re about ready to cut your wrists.
I sat in a doctorate class taught by Dr. Barna about 15 years ago and heard him say that American Christianity from that point had 10 more years to radically change the way we do business or it wouldn’t survive. Now that we’re 5 years beyond that, I wonder what our learned brother is saying. From what I can read, not much more.
It is amazing that most of what gets printed and read, is written by non-practitioners of the faith; that is in terms of pastors and leaders. It’s professional observers, survey-takers, those who cast a disapproving glance at the American church movement who can tell you exactly what’s wrong with it but have never been on the practical solution end of making good things happen, like so many others have and are doing.
Before this sounds like a Barna-bashing blog, let me admit that there is something desperately wrong with American Christianity. It is the same thing that is wrong with Christianity around the world, it seems to me. And that is, most American Christians, (not all, I’m not an expert, I don’t go everywhere, I understand that, but for 4 decades now I’ve been in the trenches dealing with literally tens of thousands of people) without exception, too many Christians I know, suffer from self-loathing.
Yup. That’s it. Even though in Romans 8 it says, “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ,” we still feel condemned. We’re afraid, we’re alone, and we feel unloved, unwanted, and uncelebrated. Why?
It’s our nature. We are fallen after all, deeply wounded to the soul. And while we are redeemed, we are not fully redeemed.
But let me ask you to come to your own conclusion by going on iTunes or any other neighborhood and listening to what’s being preached on Sunday mornings. Most of it barely resembles the gospel. Some of it is good news. But good news detached from the foundation of Jesus and what He taught can hardly be called “good news.” More like playing a sonnet while the Titanic sinks.
I know I’m not the only one who understands this and is trying to do something about it, but until we identify the problem and admit it, until we set aside our false bravado, until we get honest, particularly from the stage where most of our teaching is done, we’re going to continue to live with a big elephant in the room.
We should feel joy, peace, love, patience, energy, excitement, enthusiasm, and passion. This is our goal. This is what we seek. This is what’s worth fighting for.
And yet what do most American churches fight over? Well, you can fill in the blank.
My friend, if you are in Christ, there is no condemnation. You are free, loved as you are not as you ought to be, and your future is secure. Today is a gift and you ought to embrace it and enjoy it. You have my permission. Most of all, you have Christ’s promise.