The following link is to an article that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor on the 27 March 2010:
Some believe the United States is on the verge of a major collapse of the evangelical church. That’s according to an article published by Michael Spencer in the Christian Science Monitor. He says this breakdown could also be the beginning of the marginalization of Christians as a whole in a country founded on the Judeo-Christian Ethic, reports MNN.
Warren Smith, author of the new book, Lovers Quarrel with the Evangelical Church, agrees. He says the reason it may collapse is because it’s forgotten about the true foundations of the faith. Smith says one pastor of the largest mega-church in the U.S. avoids the basics. “He doesn’t like to focus on sin. He doesn’t like to focus on the bloody cross, on the crucifixion of Jesus, on the need that we have as humans to have our sins atoned for. He likes to focus on the positive, on the upbeat.”
Spencer agrees as he outlines reasons why the evangelical church is on the verge of collapse. He says, “Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically the billions of dollar we’ve spent on youth ministries, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their faith.”
Many churches have followed that pattern which is why, Smith says, “It has become a church that really focuses on therapy rather than redemption.”
As a result, Smith says the evangelical church in decline. “There are all kinds of data that says we actually have fewer Christians today than we did 50 years ago.”
Smith says it’s because evangelicals have gotten away from their calling. “It’s not to make decisions, not to make converts, not to get people to raise hands at an evangelistic rally or a youth rally, but rather to make disciples and ‘teach all things I’ve commanded.’ That’s what the Great Commission really says. That’s what we’ve forgotten.”
There are more mega churches in the United States than ever before, but Smith says it’s not because there are more Christians. He says the data suggests that more Christians are flocking to mega churches and abandoning small churches.
The sad thing is, says Smith, “Mega churches provide an opportunity for people to come and be spectators rather than come and be participants or engage in true disciple-building activity.”
When Christians fail to participate, “They’re less apt to share their faith, less apt, for example, to believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. They’re less likely to believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God,” says Smith.
Smith became convicted of where he was spiritually when he realized he had been attending a church for 15 years and didn’t know how to communicate the Gospel to his kids. He says, “If you are going to a church that hasn’t, after three or four or five years, prepared you for leadership by its teaching and providing opportunities for leadership, then I would suggest there is something flawed about that church.”
There is good news, says Smith. “God is faithful. God is sovereign. God is not going to let the gates of hell prevail against His church, and we can experience the joy of being a part of that.”
As we get back to God Word, Smith says, we’ll have the desire to make disciples through church planting and other means, we’ll want to be involved in our community, and we’ll instruct our children to be followers of Christ.
Report from the Christian Telegraph