The North American church is in a credibility crisis. We find ourselves in a culture that no longer sees Christianity to be true, relevant, or, for that matter, interesting. Yet we keep doing church the same way—as if nothing has changed. We continue to do Sunday morning (and Sunday evening) services, put on Christian rock concerts, do outreach events and hang out in the fellowship hall. We do it all seeking to reach the world with the gospel, but we discover that only Christians are showing up. Meanwhile our neighbors and the world go on oblivious to the good news of Jesus Christ. We are looking more and more like a people having a conversation with ourselves that no one else cares about.
We keep counting what we call "decisions for Christ" in our churches. Yet we know most of these decisions don't mean anything. Statistics continue to show that only a small percentage of our recorded "decisions" are made by people who will still be following Jesus a year later. And yet, like the teenager who keeps going forward in the Baptist church service week after week, "making sure" of his decision one more time, we keep doing this. We intuitively know this ritual is making no connection to the way people live, but we can't stop ourselves.
The progressives among us do the same thing with justice. We create enormous energy around justice issues in the name of God. Some impressive money is raised and some good works are done in the name of Jesus. But often, too often I suggest, the word justice becomes a bumper-sticker-like rallying cry that makes us feel better rather than accomplishing anything that actually takes root in our lives. Sadly, we participate very little in actual relationships with the poor who live alongside us in ...1