The Mainline church chose death by liberalism. Cultural conformity clamped off the blood flow. She is a pale grey color, on a dust covered gurney in the hospital hallway hoping for a transfusion yet she refuses to repent. She is more determined to champion the causes of LGBTQ than endure the whole of Jesus teachings. “Jesus is Love” became the mono-themed, simplistic blinders of which her childish, myopic theology ensured her demise.
The dying American Evangelical church has chosen death by liberalism also. She has morphed into the very creature she spent a lifetime decrying—THE WORLD. Her message has become one of mixed proportions and mottled ideologies. Where did she veer? When did she redirect?
The church in America, all flavors and denominations, dying for lack of biblical leadership, is barely afloat in three leaking life rafts.
I–COPYCAT the world for popularity
Tired of Disney getting all the attention, Evangelical America in the 70’s decided to make her own Jesus-approved version. We brought in all the circus tricks, children’s musicals, camera magic, slick production techniques and even our very own DOVE AWARDS! Religious TV sadly remains as a series of phony infomercials presented by sick and greedy hucksters promoting a fake product and for quick cash. And they boldly do it on Jesus’ dime.
In just 50 years, today, look around. The now generations have perfected the machinery.
The church is more like the world than the world. If a lost person wanted to escape the world and find salvation through Christ, the church is perhaps the last place to look. They know fake when they see it and to them, the church is fake. Because of this, the church has never been more unpopular.
II–RUBBERSTAMP for “success” (nickels and noses)
Church leadership languished in the 70’s and continues to replicate itself along the lines of See-Do.
“I see your church Do—now we Do and hope for big numbers too”. An indigenous pastor is as rare as a polar bear in the Sahara. Their security has become what others are doing, not what Christ has done. The word on the street of secular humanism has supplanted the Word alive and sharper than any two-edged sword. The bible is avoided for its offensive words that are feared to restrict church growth if ever mentioned. Sermons have become sports-coach pep talks, psycho ramblings from personal sessions with the therapist, and now, with the ladies, feelings of the inner self and love for all, minus all “the hate-speech found in the bible.”
III–CHAMELION for survival
Just like Adam and Eve hiding from God in the garden, the church leader is hiding from God in a big world with lots of shiny trinkets and toys. Having lost any sense of true spiritual identity, such was traded off for a cheap substitution, the modern Daystar-like TV “preacher” is a camera hog with a large ego, fat pockets and a shallow sense of worth that has been further degraded by cultural conformity and an exaggerated need for attention. (Did I mention hair dye?) The new church leader needs a degree in acting, sales and production rather than Seminary for Pastoral Ministry. These “leaders” are much like the insecure teenage girl, raising her skirt in increments, saying, “Please like me—please love me—please support me—please don’t reject me.”
Without effort, these carnal men turn their church body into the same impotent, infantile placard. Add to that a deacon body asking why the church isn’t growing and you have the recipe for a disillusioned, shrinking church body that will often tolerate fakery-antics in the pulpit just to keep the lights on. Multiply this time thousands and you have the American church landscape wistfully leaving the landscape.
Moral: Chameleons survive but that is all. They spend their entire life being something they are not so as not to be eaten up by those who might spot them for who they are.
WHEN IS THERE HOPE?
When the church body refuses to accept leadership bent on turning them into an “American Idol” knockoff, we have a chance at being and doing the gospel. When the productions, lights and camera smiles are gone…When the fog machines and Praise me bands find other places to “shine”… When conformity to culture (SSM & LGBTQ) sickens the leader, the sheep will understand how God loves sinful people without condoning and parading the sins that destroy them from within.
The gospel I refer to is one that brings life and death simultaneously. It is the same one that is a fragrance of death and life. This same message of Jesus Christ brings peace and a sword at the same time. This way of life supports harmony and division in households who both accept and reject the gospel.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.” –II Corinthians 2:14-17
CONSIDER THESE STEPS TO ALLOWING THE LEAKY, FAKE LIFE RAFTS TO SIMPLY SINK TO THE BOTTOM
Step One: Accept being rejected by the world without becoming a martyr.
“If the people of this world hate you, just remember that they hated me first.”—John 15:18
Step Two: Preach the Word. In season and out.
“Preach God’s message. Do it willingly, even if it isn’t the popular thing to do. You must correct people and point out their sins. But also cheer them up, and when you instruct them, always be patient. The time is coming when people won’t listen to good teaching. Instead, they will look for teachers who will please them by telling them only what they are itching to hear. They will turn from the truth and eagerly listen to senseless stories. But you must stay calm and be willing to suffer. You must work hard to tell the good news and to do your job well.” -–II Timothy 4:2-5
Step Three: Repeat #’s 1&2 and leave the results to God each time.
Step Four: Love the people of this world but not the World system that represents the poisons of sin.
“Don’t love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you cannot love the Father.”—I John 2:15
Step Five: Identify as being Human, a new creation and as a servant of Christ.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” –-II Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” –-Romans 12:1-2
Step Six: Study and know the bible—God’s word.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” –-II Timothy 3:16
“As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” -–Ephesians 4:14-16
Step Seven: Expose the Charlatans and fakes who manipulate others in Jesus name. (I cor 6)
“I plan to go on doing just what I have always done. Then those people won’t be able to brag about doing the same things we are doing. Anyway, they are no more than false apostles and dishonest workers. They only pretend to be apostles of Christ. And it is no wonder. Even Satan tries to make himself look like an angel of light. So why does it seem strange for Satan’s servants to pretend to do what is right? Someday they will get exactly what they deserve.” –II Corinthians 11:12-15
Step Eight: Be bold and courageous because that is what we do as a reflection of who we are and who we belong to.
“God’s Spirit doesn’t make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control. Don’t be ashamed to speak for our Lord.” –II Timothy 1:7-8
Step Nine: Be determined about belonging to the body. There is no “safe distancing” in Christ concerning other believers on Sunday in Community Worship. Face-to-face. In person.
“We should keep on encouraging each other to be thoughtful and to do helpful things. Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer.” –Hebrews 10:24-25
Step Ten: Each morning, make yourself, and all the resources you have been blessed with, available to God. “so that you may have to give” not hoard. The Great Commandment is still God’s idea and plan for us and doing the Great Commission proves that we get it.
“If you are a thief, quit stealing. Be honest and work hard, so you will have something to give to people in need.” –Ephesians 4:28
“Finally, my dear friends, be glad that you belong to the Lord. It doesn’t bother me to write the same things to you that I have written before. In fact, it is for your own good.
Watch out for those people who behave like dogs! They are evil and want to do more than just circumcise you. But we are the ones who are truly circumcised, because we worship by the power of God’s Spirit and take pride in Christ Jesus. We don’t brag about what we have done, although I could. Others may brag about themselves, but I have more reason to brag than anyone else. I was circumcised when I was eight days old, and I am from the nation of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin. I am a true Hebrew. As a Pharisee, I strictly obeyed the Law of Moses. And I was so eager that I even made trouble for the church. I did everything the Law demands in order to please God.
But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless. Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ and to know that I belong to him. I could not make myself acceptable to God by obeying the Law of Moses. God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ. All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did, so that somehow I also may be raised to life.
I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So, I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize. My friends, I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done. All of us who are mature should think in this same way. And if any of you think differently, God will make it clear to you. 16 But we must keep going in the direction that we are now headed.
My friends, I want you to follow my example and learn from others who closely follow the example we set for you. I often warned you that many people are living as enemies of the cross of Christ. And now with tears in my eyes, I warn you again that they are headed for hell! They worship their stomachs and brag about the disgusting things they do. All they can think about are the things of this world.
But we are citizens of heaven and are eagerly waiting for our Savior to come from there. Our Lord Jesus Christ has power over everything, and he will make these poor bodies of ours like his own glorious body.” –Philippians 3:1-21