Friday, March 16, 2012
The State of the Church
The March issue of The Berean Call had a good article about the state of the Church today and what we can expect for the next generation. The article, by T.A. McMahon, can be summed up in these paragraphs:
During the last three decades, many have experienced Christianity in church settings that major in entertainment rather than in teaching the Scriptures and discipling those who attend. Thus, they are the products of years of church-growth marketing schemes that have attempted to fill pews with the "unchurched" and keep them coming back by using consumer-oriented tactics. It's a "keep the customer happy," seeker-friendly approach that has critically diluted biblical content as churches compete with the world in order to interest their youth. The game rooms of some mega-churches could put to shame their cities' most popular arcades. The marketing mentality of "do whatever it takes to attract and keep the kids coming back to church" reflects a "bait and switch" scheme, and in most situations the "bait" (games, music that mimics the world, and entertainment) overwhelms the intended "switch" (learning the Bible). That endeavor has both trivialized and marginalized the instruction of the Word of God for those who have been subjected to that worldly approach. The outcome has resulted in a shallow Christianity for millions of young professing Christians....
The Lord willing, in part two [in April] we will address specifically some of the more serious issues that have already led multitudes off course from God's Word and have shipwrecked the faith of many. Those turbulent waters feature the unbiblical "self" teachings, such as self-esteem and self-love; the fear of being considered intolerant; the desire to be accepted and respected by the world. These times also exhibit gross lack of discernment by churches and individuals who allow community and relationships to overshadow biblical truth; who buy into the pseudo-sciences of evolution and psychotherapy; who appear to have an inability to recognize the heresies of the emerging church movement, the contemplative movement, and mystical and occult practices, the word-faith and healing and prosperity movement, and the inner-healing movement. There is a lack of understanding regarding Replacement Theology; the rise of anti-Semitism within the church; yoga in the church; the false gospel and anti-biblical dogmas of Roman Catholicism; and no apparent concern regarding the errors of the youth-oriented para-church organizations; the misdirected propensity to help others by means of a social gospel, eliminating social injustice, and other programs that lead to "works salvation."
The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, his spiritual son in the faith and one of the pastoral leaders of the generation that would succeed his own, these sobering words of warning:
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
In addition to the warning, he also gave Timothy instructions for helping to correct those things that would take place and would draw believers away from God's truth:
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season [always be ready!]; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine [hang in there with the teachings of Scripture].” (2 Timothy 4:2)
That's the simple solution to anchor a generation adrift: simple, as in "not complex." Yet neither is it easy--it demands discipline and diligence.