Tag Archives: church attendance

Thoughts about Christianity and Culture.

It seems that our culture has completely rejected God’s Lordship over us. In other words, Western Culture has warred against The Church, and seems to have overcome The Church in defining morality. It is important to say early that The Church will not be defeated. Yet, if we look at Christianity from the historical perspective, and more importantly, from the biblical perspective, we understand that The Church is not immune to suffering and persecution.

It is important to make a quick point here: it is possible that God will allow American Christianity to suffer instead of taking her out the world, or Jesus returning in our lifetime. Now, I am not saying that Jesus is not going to return in our lifetime either, but it might be healthy for Western Christians to consider what may be coming our way. In fact, in my reading of The Bible, it seems to me that Christianity is made up of peculiar people who long for the Return of Christ, not so the world can finally get what it has coming, but so that this world and humanity can be healed and put right. Therefore, it is wise to check our motivation about Christ returning. Additionally, properly motivated is to long for the Return and includes Christians being examples of The Way; Christians, consider this identifier from the book of Acts.

Now, as culture has won the right to openly redefine morality, The Church should now consider how we got here and what our future may look like.

First, for too long, we American Christians have relied on legislators disciple people while we lived high-on-the-hog in our personal lives. This meant that we ignored the crucial expectation of God to be Holy, and ignored the command of Christ to make disciples. After all, who had time to make disciples? We had to pursue our goals in secular society that meant that we needed to completely focus on our jobs first, families second, pleasures third, and if there was time, we might attend an organized church service on Easter. We spent time turning immorality into political issues instead explaining in a spirit of love that certain behaviors and motives are sinful and place people at risk to miss Heaven. All of this while we ignored the poor and those who were born into tough situations of no fault of their own.

Secondly, We spent time pointing fingers at people and judging them even though they were not part of The Church. Yet, all the while we were doing the same things they were, either secretly, or we would simply say proudly, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” So we seemed to try to impact America by saying, “Do as I say, and not as I do.” Listen, this type of attitude toward sin is not going to save anyone from sin; let alone persuade someone that we know The Way. Remember though, we relied on the government to fight for us, and to disciple the population. All of the while, because of this type of attitude, those who do not know the Lord aren’t seeing people who are trying to point them to a better life, but they see people who attack them because the life they found themselves in.

It seems that we Christians better start changing our approach to winning people instead of winning society. We need to quit trying to bull people into living biblically, and start showing them. It seems now, though, there could be a great time of testing that may come upon the American Church. For too long, too many have claimed to be Christians, but in reality sinned as much, if not more, than everyone else.

Testing may come in the form of God allowing Bible “scholars” to redefine morality in a way that embraces political correctness so as to mislead those who are nominal, at best, in regard to faith. Testing may come from certain forms of biblical doctrine becoming illegal to teach. Yet, God still holds us responsible to teach it in spite of what the laws of man read. This alone will hold a great amount of tension for many who try to travel The Way.

How will this happen? Well, nominal faith already exists and many do not attend organized church, many do not read The Bible, and many who claim to be “saved” just go about their lives without regard to what is happening; let alone coming, or what God desires from us corporately and individually. After all, once we have prayed the proper phrase, then God is no longer able, or desires, to hold us accountable for what do and don’t do. Therefore, all that we cared about, self, remains good; no worries.

I am not a prophet, but I really believe that huge changes are coming in how The Church is looked at and is allowed to operate. It seems that we Christians have not realized that we have lost the culture war, or at least we don’t seem to care, and we are not prepared for what Church looks like in the coming years. And, what is worse, all of this while many Americans still claim to be born again, and megachurches continue to spring up and dominate the Christian culture. All of this while salvations are continually claimed, but do nothing to impact our culture, or our churches. Clearly, we need to begin adjusting what we are doing and reexamining our motivation for doing it.

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Why I am hardcore about listing salvtions

For years I’ve struggled with churches who list salvations and “celebrate,” their victories.  As a pastor, I know that I already seem awful for writing this sentence.  Yet, it really isn’t my intention to take away joy.  My purpose is to question whether or not we, as pastors, are capturing the truth of the Bible.

Consider repentance.  Most agree that repentance is a requirement for salvation.  There are two different types of repentance in the Bible.  One type of repentance is worldly.  This repentance is illustrated by someone who is sorrowful about his or her situation.  This is much like Judas Iscariot who betrayed Christ.  He was sorry because he had betrayed an innocent man.  So to escape his situation he was sorry enough to hang himself.  We may assume that he likely did not receive salvation since he did not adequately repent; and since Jesus said it was going to be bad for the person who betrayed him.

In the Bible, the repentance that leads to eternal life is known by many to be Godly repentance.  This repentance occurs when someone is sorry for his or her sin.  In fact, they are sorry enough to change his or her life from living a life of disobedience to a life of obedience.  This is foundational for salvation.  Paul, also known as Saul before his conversion, is a great example of this type of repentance since his life was completely changed on the Damascus Road.

Many pastors and theologians are now questioning “The Sinner’s Prayer.”  The concern is that many are simply hanging their hats on simply believing in Jesus and that phrase itself as if there is nothing left to do.  While I continue to use this phrase, since it helps me to explain to someone what salvation looks like, I also realize that many pray this prayer and do not really commit to the Lord.  Herein lies the problem for listing, or counting, salvations for everyone to see.  If these people never bear fruit and have nothing more to do with church, then they cannot be counted.  They are still in their old lives and not new life in Christ.

Let’s look at confession now.  Yes, I said confession.  It is biblical and not solely Catholic (Roman), but it is catholic (universal).  In fact, in the Bible we are told to confess our sins to each other (James 5:16).  But, in today’s modern church, we simply ask people to raise their hands if they want to receive Christ as their Savior.  I see reports on Facebook sometimes where members of a church talk about people receiving Christ in services and use numbers anywhere from 10-3000!  This is great news!  Yet, when you investigate what this might have looked like, these salvations were seen by a show of hands.  What about confession?

Consider John the Baptist for a moment.  When he called on Israel to repent, he did not ask for a show of hands.  He asked them to come forward to be baptized.  What of confession?  Who did those who “received” Christ confess their sins too?  I guess we could say to Jesus, but what of “to each other?”  Who will hold them accountable so that it can be measurable, really, whether or not they were actually saved?

Consider the idea of believing.  Belief is a multi-use word in our society.  For example, I believe The Statue of Liberty exists; though I have not experienced it.  I have not shaped my life after it; but I do give it patriotic praise during wartime.  Again, I believe in air which has impacted my life because I can’t stay underwater long if I should choose and I know that I am sustained by it.  Yet, while on dry land I think nothing of it.  However, believing in Jesus goes beyond that of the demons since He does have my respect.  I now use the term believe to reveal that I have staked my entire being on Him and His ability to save me physically and spiritually.  When I use that term in that way it dwarfs when I use the word believe in the context of The Statue of Liberty.  Same word, but two different intentions and outcomes.

Do those who are counted as salvations really understand what it means to believe, and how it impacts your whole life with a simple hand-raise?  We haven’t talked about Vacation Bible School yet.

What about receiving?  Reception seems to look like transformation as the result of receiving.  I am amazed on a regular basis that fruit never seems to be measurable from those who raise their hands to be saved; except in attendance at church on Sundays.  Transformation often does not take place in such a way that fruit can be measured outside of a church setting.  I likely sound judgmental.  Yet, Paul and Jesus seemed to believe that we could see the results of someone’s salvation easily.

I write this so that we can get a discussion going about what real salvation looks like.  In fact, if my concerns are valid, then people need to reexamine whether or not they received Christ.  Further, this could mean that The Church in America is worse off than we realize since numbers may be skewed.  Again, I will say that if everyone, who we like to claim is really saved is really saved, then the impact of The Church in America would not have to resort to politics to change the country, but the country would be changed by transformed lives.

I feel more comfortable to say that my church had a certain amount of salvations when people are conquering evil in their lives.  I feel comfortable when these people are active in church, and out of church.  Often churches will record many salvations, yet their attendance numbers do not change.  My fear is that we are creating manipulative excitement in order to make our churches look wonderful.  And that we are competing church with church through these possibly skewed numbers.  This is why I’m hardcore about salvations listing.

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