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If it’s broke… fix me

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the American Christian culture.

The latest statistics (a landmark study just came out two weeks ago) continue to demonstrate that Christianity is shrinking rapidly and that “non religion” is the fastest growing religious category.

Other statistics show the huge drop off (70 – 80% depending on the study) of Christian kids who walk away from the faith at university.

Here’s my issue: if your system is designed to give you exactly the results that you’re getting… then based on the data our system or particular brand of Christian culture must be broke.

And if the system is broke – it seems to me, either you try to identify what is wrong and fix it or you are stupid, lazy, afraid, disengaged, dispassionate or a combination of the above.

So what is wrong with the system? What is wrong with how we do church? What is causing us to succumb to secularism at an alarming rate?

I don’t pretend to have the answer to such a complex problem, but here are some of my guiding thoughts:

  • Christianity should be seen as profound and respectable – it was for Jesus’ followers and it seems to be viewed this way in Africa, Asia and South America where the church is growing. May our Christian gatherings be profound and not forgettable.
  • Maybe we shouldn’t be afraid to deconstruct some of the cultural and church norms. If an engine is broken you usually take it apart and then rebuild it with integrity. I think there are plenty of routine things that we should probably hold up to the light of scripture and rethink, rebuild and reform.
  • The glue that holds people to God is a deep transforming experience of God. It is easy to walk away from a concept – much more difficult to walk away from a relationship. What are we doing in North American churches to help people or youth not simply be entertained, but experience God in a life changing relational manner?
  • I think we mistakenly try to be good Christians so that our children will become good Christians. Rather, we must be good Missionaries in order for our children to become good Christians. Bystanders rarely beget bystanders. Players, however, draw a crowd and inspire followers. Our kids need examples to follow, not others to congregate with. (I am defining “Christian” here as primarily cultural and focused on personal faith and morality. I contrast this with “Missionary,” which assumes the same faith and morality, but adds the active component of working with God as well as seeing the adventure, potential and urgency of reaching out to a lost and dying world.)
  • Just me talking… but I think we lack faith. Our problems are bigger to us than our God. Our wants are bigger than our God. Our fears are bigger than our God. The threat of peer pressure is bigger than our God. Our own projects are bigger than God’s call (see the book of Haggai).

I think we all know that something is wrong with American Christianity – our Christianity.

I think we all yearn for an authentic expression of Christianity and church – our faith and our church.

I think we all know something is broke… and the question I’m asking myself is, “Do I have enough faith in my own life for God’s call and presence to be bigger than the sum total of all my issues, insecurities and selfish desires?”

… praying that I can be fixed.

Posted in: christianity, journal

3 Responses

  1. don says:

    Sounds like a book to me:)

  2. Jenna says:

    I really dont even know who I am writing this to, I just found your link on a friend’s facebook page and read this entry. I had a few thoughts though, and seeing as you are a fellow follower of Christ, our “family” can only grow from conversation and discussion. I too, obviously, do not have the answeres. No one does. But, I few thoughts perhaps…

    1.) God calls us to be humble servants. Humility is not something easily attained when you are given anything you want- in excess- and became freely to waste things. American has too much “stuff” that we all, including Christians, have no reason to be forced into humility. Its sad. But you are right about missions- there is where we see the hurting world and can learn humility. And missions doesnt have to be across the seas. There are so many people here is America, (yes, America) that are empty physically, emotionally, financially…

    2.) Free will is something God entrusted to us, knowing that if we were merely puppets it would defeat his purposes. Unfortunatly that free will was abused in the garden, much the same way that America’s freedom has become abused. Freedom of expression and speech and press honestly allows creeps to have child porn on their computers and unless acting on their thoughts, cannot be held responsible for anything. Are you kidding me?! Yes people, we have freedom. But if there is no room for accountability it will destroy us (and is).

    3.) Last thought- Christians need to stop trying to find new ways to “reach people.” They try to water it down so much so that it isnt intimidating to outsiders. But the truth is the truth, and for years people have been coming to Christ becasue of what he taught and who he is. We dont need to rewrite what God designed simply to fit out culture. He knew this culture when he created the earth. There are no amendments in the bible. We need to get back to the Word and what God desgined for us to do and be.

    So, in essence, I agree with your post. It is sad…but we must keep hope and continue to pray and be examples for our nation, and our world. We just need to be true examples.

    I too will be waiting for your book:)

  3. Lance Green says:

    I believe you are right on track Ken. There is a lot of conversation on the issues of the American Christian church culture… A lot of it, however, is only complaining… People that sit back and watch the game and refuse to play it.

    I firmly believe in the growth of Christianity; it should be constantly growing, changing, and evolving. What sucks is when the synthesis is created from two things in conflict, it then becomes the next thing you’re struggling against, as if part of the human condition is to constantly think we have arrived.

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