Saturday, April 5, 2014

Why We Lost the Culture War

You have heard many say there is a war on Christianity, or a war on faith or a war on the church.  I want to submit to you today that it was slightly larger, there was an all out culture war, and it's pretty clear that Christianity lost.  We are now in a "Post Christian" culture in the United States, and there has been a radical value shift.  If you look at church attendance and membership, it's down.  Churches are closing their doors and shutting down.  There are still strong and healthy churches out there, but we have seen the slide away from faith accelerate.  There was a culture war, and we lost.  I want to provide a few reasons why I think we lost the war and what we can do about it.

1.  We have no idea who we are fighting.  We are not fighting people, we are fighting ideals.  The ideals of hedonism, secularism, humanism, atheism and pluralism.  They are telling us that there is no room at the table for Christianity, but we are more than welcome to a stop at the little kids table.  These ideals have pushed Christianity to the side and no longer take anything that is said seriously.  This has happened because we have tried to destroy people, institutions, organizations and groups.  We used tactics like boycotting, picketing, campaigning and lobbying.  While many groups focused on presenting their view as the compassionate and accepting thing, we ended up looking condemning, hate filled and unloving.  There are some groups that claim the name of "church" that express beliefs that contradict almost every other church in the United States, those groups seem to make the most noise by picking funerals and making a disturbance.  They have not helped our cause, but the judgmental sentiment that we have thrown around, it hasn't helped much either.  All these things gave their ideals a boost and we began to lose.

2.  We fought each other. A lot.  Put 5 Baptists in a room, they can find something to fight about.  Calvinism, Cessationism, drinking, smoking, communion, Eschatology, and if all else fails we can argue over worship style.  The culture war was lost while we were busy fighting internal battles.  Many of the -isms that over took Christianity did so while we were too busy to notice.  We were too busy with our church splits to notice that we were losing traction quickly.

3.  We lack the language to communicate outside our sub-culture.  We use words that no one else uses and they have no idea what we are even talking about.  We talk about sin and atonement and depravity and salvation and redemption.  They sorta know what sin is, they have heard of the Salvation Army, and redemption is when you take a coupon into the store and use it.  They don't understand what we are talking about, and they don't care.  They use strong language, we use Church language.  We talk past each other, we have not engaged the culture in a way that is meaningful to them in regards to language.

4.  We assume they will come to us.  Let's face it, we buy glowing signs, open the doors and expect people to visit our churches.  They aren't.  They don't.  They don't even think about it most of the time.  The days are gone when people come to church.  We are slowly dying waiting for people to just show up, and they are not showing up.  Sure, the occasional person trickles in, but they are almost always previously churched.  The unchurched are not visiting churches.  We haven't made the attempt necessary to go out and share that the competing ideals have.  They have been active in the community while we have been in the building.

5.  We have forgotten it's a war.  We just assume no one is competing for the souls of humanity.  We are on the winning side when it comes to earth, time, space and all of history, but the goal is not to be one of the few that gets to Heaven.  The goal is to share with others so they can be there with us.  The casualties of war are the spoils of the enemy's camp.  Satan is using all the tricks he knows and he has been active while we have been passive.  He has used media, music, society and social networking and made sin look so appealing.  We haven't exposed the chains and torments of sin as they are, and the world is seeing what Satan is selling, not what Christ is giving away.

When I look at the world, it's ideals and how fringe Christianity is becoming, I am convinced that we are going to have to change tactics soon.  This is one reason I am so passionate about a House Church network, about reading students in the public schools, reaching coworkers at work and sharing faith in the marketplace and in the community.  We may have to change our tactics to make a real difference.

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