The End of the Evangelical Church?

The Internet Monk blogger has posted an interesting article which predicts the collapse of the Evangelical Church within 10 years.  You can read it here. There are three parts to this discussion.

I have had similar concerns for the past 10 years.  I may not agree with his timeline or be as emphatically concerned as he is about this, but we need to examine with care  the”why” this is happening before we worry about predictions about the “when”.

In Part 1, Internet Monk calls to our attention these statements:  1.  Evangelicals have identified themselves as part of a culture war and political conservatism to their detriment.  2. Evangelicals have failed to pass on orthodox beliefs to their children.  3. Mega-churches that are consumer driven and older churches that are dying out because of it.  4. The deterioration of the core of evangelicalism will hinder missional efforts.  5. Money is not flowing into churches as it has in the past.  All of these points are valid.

One very important issue that he did not bring up in part one is the very crux of this issue, in my opinion.  Simply stated:  We are not teaching the Bible accurately anymore.  We are not teaching the entire gospel message to believers.  We aren’t explaining the deep theological truths of the Christian faith to believers.  How can God’s word speak through with power and authority if we deny its very admittance into our churches?  God’s Word must ring forth from our pulpits, not just from an occasional small group attempting to study the Bible on their own.

Today, we teach a false illusion of Christianity; a distorted version of the real truth, and some pastors, desiring to bring in the masses, barter their souls for a large attendance in their sanctuaries, choosing to shove the Bible under the carpet; consciously choosing to preach a message that has more to do with feeling good than honoring God.  When was the last time you heard a pastor mention Jesus’ atoning sacrifice made on our behalf?  That He has redeemed us with His shed blood?  When was the last time you heard a message about justification, the holiness of God, or defining a saving faith for you?  Today’s pulpit messages have more to do with us than with God.

The very book we profess to believe has become coated in dust, tattered and often remains unused.  People trust culture-driven, mega-star preachers instead of seeking a community of believers that is faithful to the scripture.  When they do go to church, it becomes all too commonplace to them.  The glory and majesty of God is veiled behind self-help sermons and works-based programs.  They attend merely to go through the motions in an attempt to feel good about what they are doing instead of coming first and foremost to worship a Holy and Sovereign God.  Service, which is extremely necessary in the church, comes only after we satisfy God’s requirements for worship.  After a while, contemporary church attenders don’t see any purpose in continuing attendance because their faith is an empty one.  You cannot fill the heart of a Christian with anything but the truth and presence of the one Holy and Sovereign God.

Nadab and Abihu

Nadab and Abihu

Many who finally leave the church ask the question, “Is this all there is to Christianity?”  Many cannot understand why they have not met God during their faithful attendance of the evangelical church.  Sadly, I fear many may not know Him if they cannot comprehend what He has done for us.  They reap what has been sown for them by these mega-star preacher — believing the good things they do for God in the church will save their souls.  Most have never heard that we are born into sin and need a Savior……that nothing we do in the name of service can save us.  The word ‘sin’ seems too ugly to talk about in this culturally-relevant environment and if we cannot even understand the basics that we must be saved from our innate sin, how are we to worship the one true God?

Not to lay the entire burden on our pastors, each person has a personal responsibility to seek after God.  We cannot solely blame a church system or -ism for our position in Christ.  Each one of us owns a Bible.  We have the ability to use our fingers to part the pages to read them daily.  Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.  We must be faithful to seek Him.

In part 3, IMonk, as he is called, asks the question, “Is this a bad thing?”  My response is that sometimes failure is just the right thing to happen.  I would rather have a messed-up, deluded church fail than to allow it to continue to mislead the masses.  I would rather God’s truth ring out in richness and clarity in fewer and smaller faithful congregations than to allow the plethora of lies to continue to flourish.  I would favor the death of evangelicalism  rather than to permit God’s Word to continue to be perverted and mangled in “the church.”

Sound harsh?  Perhaps.  God reminds us that there will always be a remnant.  Paul reminds us in Romans 11 that God has not rejected His people.  Prophets and common Christians alike were killed, persecuted and ridiculed for the true faith.  Yet, Paul reminded them that there was a remnant remaining, chosen by grace.  Gratefully, those who live within the remnant have options.  There are some amazing reformed teachers I am able to hear  teach through podcasts and online sites.  These kinds of teachers are not available in every community, but they are available.

Finally, why are we so alarmed by this?  Were not we, as Christians, told that this very thing would happen?   Matt. 24:4-8 reminds us to expect it.  Our warning?  See that no one leads you astray.  Mark 13 and Luke 21 say the very same thing.  I love what the Luke 21 passage says.  It tells us in verse 13 that we have opportunity to bear witness for Christ.  We are reminded to settle this in our minds NOT to meditate beforehand how to answer because God will give us a mouth and a wisdom which none of our adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.  Luke tells us in verse 17 that we will be hated.  Why then, should we expect otherwise?  Why should we not anticipate an overabundance of churches in our land who do not preach the gospel?

What can we do as laypeople?  Pray.  Be faithful to God’s truth.  Study to show ourselves approved, lest we are also found wanting.  Always be willing to give an answer to those who ask, but be sure you understand what you are talking about so that error does not continue to flourish.  Remain faithful, just as our God is faithful.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Lisa Robinson on February 1, 2009 at 3:37 PM

    Kathy, thanks for directing me to this very truthful post. I think another reason for the current trend is that churches by and large, are losing the centrality of Christ. He is the glue that holds it all together. And you are right, it starts with a complete and accurate gospel message. But through the consumer driven and self-help oriented programs, we are trying to build a church without Christ. This is the tragedy.

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