The American Church Has a Choice to Make

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church steeple against blue sky

Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, has been consistently coming out with interesting and relevant perspectives on the Christian faith, the general culture and the interaction between the two. I enjoyed sitting down with him in Nashville recently for an interview on his popular internet-based show.

In a piece published last week for Christianity Today, “4 Trends for Churches to Consider,” Stetzer builds on some of the points he presented earlier this year refuting the myth about the “dying” American Church. This new article is a worthwhile read, so I encourage you to check it out for yourself.

The big picture Stetzer’s presenting is this: the culture is no longer inherently friendly to Christianity or our principles. Gone are the days where even nominal believers still led their lives trying to follow the Ten Commandments. Today’s culture embraces much more of an “anything goes” mantra. As a result, those who call themselves Christians are feeling pressure to compromise their values to fit in.

This pressure will serve to purify the Church and make committed believers – those Stetzer calls convictional Christians – more distinct from the culture that surrounds them.

A choice to make

old rugged crossThis distinction comes at a price. After all, it’s easier to follow the cultural winds of change that deny the veracity of the Bible, the existence of absolute truth and God’s definition of marriage.

What’s the alternative for the Church? I’ll quote directly from Ed:

…become a counter-cultural church that faithfully adheres to Scripture and proclaims the gospel in a carefully considered way. [This] church will offer real hope in the midst of an adversarial culture and is the only real future for the American church.

Parachurch organizations like Focus on the Family are not exempt from this decision. We, too, have a choice to make. We’re committed to continuing our allegiance to Scripture, and to standing in the gap for marriages, families and the preborn.

As culture continues to drastically change around us and people are now wrestling with issues previous generations wouldn’t have even thought of, I ask for your prayers. Please pray that God would give all of us at Focus discernment to engage our culture well – with love, truth and wisdom. Please pray that God would keep our faith strong, and that we can faithfully continue to live out our mission to help families thrive.

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Thriving Pastor is Focus on the Family’s own resource for clergy and about church matters. Pulse Check, which is part of Thriving Pastor, provides helpful research findings and ministry tools to help those in ministry.

I’ll leave you with my other posts highlighting Stetzer’s work, as well as the video of my recent interview with him:

 

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Leave a Comment

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Christians are ostracized. Gay marriage is celebrated. Abortion is literally destroying an entire generation. The bandwagon has stopped carrying us and has started running over us. The church is dying, and no one is noticing because we’re wasting time criticizing rather than evangelizing.

 

This isn’t the time to wait or debate. Hell is hot, and forever is a long time. Lost people need to be reached, churches need to be planted, and nations need to be evangelized. Let’s have some amazing, Jesus-empowered stories to tell our grandkids.

Ralph Conti More than 1 year ago

The Church isn't dying and Christians aren’t be ostracized by society at large.  The main opposition is against people like you.  Your second paragraph sums it up perfectly.  In short, you want to force your religion on other people.  And even if your intentions are as good and honest as can be, they will be perceived as coercion and resented. 

Brittany Starr More than 1 year ago
Ignorance can be summed up in the common blind minded mantra "you're trying to force your religion on others" let's get this straight; did this individual say they planned to use physical force (such as violence) or coercion to change anyone's mind? There is zero evidence of that. Use your critical thinking skills because the accusation that Christians are out to force our beliefs on others is pure farce. True Christians do not do such things as it is against our own doctrine. Militant atheism on the other hand, yeah we can talk about how they've gone great lengths to force their ideologies on others through mass communist slaughter and government takeover (hence the majority of atheists being liberal and for big government and the majority of liberals being atheists). 100 million dead and counting. Deaths in the name of religion however are only a drop in the bucket in comparison.
Ralph Conti More than 1 year ago

Ignorance can also be summed up by excusing a wrong with an example of something worse.  Perhaps you should take your own advice about critical thinking skills and re-read my post.  I am not accusing Christians; I am accusing an individual.  Moreover, I also agree that “True Christians do not do such things as it is against our own doctrine”, yet I hesitate to call such people who do false, as I believe that their “intentions are as good and honest as can be”.

 

What I am referring to is perception.  Perception is not always grounded in reality or logic, as you so clearly demonstrated, but it motivates emotions all the same.  A good example is your belief that the majority of liberals are atheists. It may seem that way, but it’s not.  That is how perception works and in this case, you are no different than those who see religion as a threat.