Like a sharknado, the death of the Church is impossible, but creates buzz. Left-of-center Evangelicals are now warning that if the Evangelical church does not change younger adults will leave. This is what left-of-center Evangelicals warned my entire life, but this time they really mean it. Apparently Evangelicals are in the grip of whatever it is that left-of-center Evangelicals do not like.
The problem with the thesis is many former Evangelicals are becoming Roman or Orthodox. The monks on Mount Athos struggle with the thirteenth century not the twenty-first. Solutions to the drift, even assuming it exists, also focus on college educated people . . . as if two-thirds of the American population did not matter. American Evangelicalism has problems, but it is hard to find a single problem that has not been criticized, loudly, by “friendlies” inside the movement. Finally, data showing drift away from the Evangelical church can be disputed and may be out of date. There is some evidence that the decline was always overstated and has reversed.
Doom sells and the news that things are about what they always have been doesn’t.
If we were to listen to the majority of Evangelical young people globally, we would discover a generation more concerned that American Evangelicals are becoming decadent, than that American Evangelicals are narrow-minded. And yet how can I resist joining the advice giving trend for a complex movement?
Here are my sharknado-serious recommendations to avoid the gates of Hell prevailing over the Church:
First, don’t listen to anyone’s advice that makes a living off Evangelicals telling Evangelicals they stink.
Second, avoid advice from academic pirates: those who sack a Christian college for loot given by an earlier generation to bemoan the values of the earlier generation. They will have the shelf-life and long term cultural resonance of a Jonny Depp film.
Third, do not change anything for the sake of changing something. Change things to make the Church more full of truth, beauty, and goodness.
Fourth, avoid narrowing down on a single issue, but don’t be afraid to preach on any issue.
Fifth, remember that God is not an American, but recall American Christians are. Americans will stand before the throne as part of the American people.
Sixth, don’t limit the concerns of the global Church to European academics and people who go to conferences paid for by American and European academics.
Seventh, find people who go to church weekly, read their Bible daily, pray without ceasing, and are becoming holy. Take advice from those people.
Eighth, get really old people who have grown in wisdom and holiness and put them in charge. Let them teach the young.
Ninth, recall that “what is up to date” is forever dated.
Tenth, don’t take the future very seriously, nobody knows what it will be like or if it will even happen! Instead, take the past very seriously. It isn’t changing.
Eleventh, our own sins are enough, never apologize for someone else’s sins.
Twelfth, jeremiads are good if you love the group criticized as much as Jeremiah loved the Jewish people.
Thirteenth, worship Jesus Christ. Don’t worship Twenty-first century Jesus, but worship Jesus.
Fourteenth, preach the whole Bible.
Fifteenth, love the poor and the “alien,” because God loves the poor and the alien.
Sixteenth, the focus of the Church is on God, not the redeemed or the sinners.
Seventeenth, read old Christian books at a three to one ratio to new Christian books.
Eighteenth, get the American flag out of the church. The Church transcends political boundaries. Make international friends.
Nineteenth, minister to people, don’t run a “show” either “high” or “low.” A pastor who doesn’t do hospital calls, do pastoral care, teach, and visit homes isn’t pastoring. If your pastor doesn’t know your name and troubles, you don’t have a pastor.
Twentieth, go to a church with no “closets” where sin is confessed and sinners are becoming saints. Nobody is perfect, don’t go to a Church that pretends anybody is, but don’t go to a Church that is content with no growth.
If the Church takes this advice, it will not die. Of course, if the Church does not take this advice, it also will not die, because God will sustain His Church.
Isn’t that joyful news?
The sharks falling from the sky are illusions of the Satanic forces that peddle fear. Jesus Christ is alive and well on Planet Earth.