You may have read this study by Barna but I think it is worth examining again as we try to reverse the tide of the declining effectiveness of our churches on the culture.
We looked at the first change in my last blog, “The Christian Church is becoming less theologically literate.”
Now let’s look at mega change number two.
2. Christians are becoming more ingrown and less outreach-oriented.
Despite technological advances that make communications instant and far-reaching, Christians are becoming more spiritually isolated from non-Christians than was true a decade ago.
Examples of this tendency include the fact that less than one-third of born again Christians planned to invite anyone to join them at a church event during the Easter season; teenagers are less inclined to discuss Christianity with their friends than was true in the past; most of the people who become Christians these days do so in response to a personal crisis or the fear of death (particularly among older Americans); and most Americans are unimpressed with the contributions Christians and churches have made to society over the past few years.
As young adults have children, the prospect of them seeking a Christian church is diminishing–especially given the absence of faith talk in their conversations with the people they most trust. With atheists becoming more strategic in championing their godless worldview, as well as the increased religious plurality driven by education and immigration, the increasing reticence of Christians to engage in faith-oriented conversations assumes heightened significance.
This mega trend is very alarming. If we are too change the culture we must engage the culture. How do we do that if we are isolated as Christians from lost people? Only one third are going to invite a non Christian to an Easter service?
The culture knows what Christians stand against but they do not know what we stand for. We often come across negative, insensitive, and boring. The media never portrays Christians in a good light. They are always portrayed as bigots and un-intelligent.
We must attack this problem on two fronts.
First, we must re-engage the culture by equipping our people to know how to have Gospel conversations with lost people. The devil has convinced us that witnessing is hard and people don’t want to know about the Gospel but that is not true. Most people know that something is missing in their life and are open to a presentation of the Gospel.
Using tools like “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel or a well written Gospel tract can serve as entrees to present the Gospel. Don’t forget that your personal testimony is also a powerful tool to communicate God’s power to change lives.
Secondly, we must do more intentional acts of service in our communities. I know churches that have adopted a local school as a ministry. They have done all kinds of things to help; landscaping, painting, working the concession stand at games, tutoring, and volunteering when needed.
What can your church do to show the love of Jesus in your community?
I would love to hear some of your ideas on engaging the culture with the Gospel.
Keep the Son in Your Eyes,