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.