Maybe Christianity In America Is Dying Because It’s Boring Everyone To Death | TheBlaze.com is a young "blogger, writer, speaker, and professional truth sayer" (his own words). He believes that the decline of the faith in America, especially among Millenials, is not due to the radical shape of this Christianity (at least on Sunday morning) but to its conventional appearance. Christian worship for many denominational folks and for nearly all non-denominationals mirrors the music and culture all around them. The message does not offend but neither does it inspire. The preaching does not challenge but neither does it speak the Gospel faithfully. It presents the person in the pew (pardon, theater seating) with a Christianity easily dismissed with a yawn. Nothing new here. . . move along. The radical shape of Christianity is the full truth of Scripture unapologetically proclaimed and worship rooted in the transcendent means of grace that deliver what they promise and do that of which they speak. If you are a Lutheran who thinks our salvation rests in slavishly following the lead of the big box evangelicals and non-denominationals, read his words carefully.
I recently attended a service that might help solve the riddle of the
fantastic decline of American Christianity. It was a different church
from the one I normally go to. Let me set the scene, perhaps it will sound familiar:
walked in and immediately realized that I’d inadvertently stumbled upon
a totally relaxed, convenient, comfortable brand of church. The first
hint was the choir members dressed in shorts and flip flops. Sweet, bro.
There were a bunch of acoustic guitars and drums and
tambourines and a keyboard. Before the service/concert began, some guy
came out to rev up the crowd. Opening acts aren’t usually a part of the
liturgical experience, but this is 2015 and we’re, like, so not into
solemn silence and prayer anymore.
There must always be noise. Always noise. Sounds. Lights. Never silence, not even for a moment.
church started. The choir, or jam band for Jesus, or whatever it was,
played a song that sounded like a cross between a 90′s Disney soundtrack
and an easy listening favorite you might hear if you skimmed through
your aunt’s second generation iPod. It wasn’t really contemporary, or
good, or relevant, but at least it wasn’t traditional. Because YUCK!
Tradition is old!
The singer was relatively talented, but he
carried on like an American Idol contestant. I got the impression that
he was fishing for applause, not worshiping the Lord of the Universe.
His style and demeanor said “talent show” but the music said “wine and
cheese festival” or maybe “my dentist’s waiting room.” It definitely
didn’t say “truth,” or “heaven,” or “the Great King sitting upon his
throne amidst throngs of mighty angels.”
The pastor began with
another round of jokes. They weren’t very funny but they succeeded in
being unserious, which I guess is close enough. The sermon was jam
packed with youth slang and pop culture. He mentioned a couple of TV
shows and Netflix. He made sports metaphors. He didn’t do anything with
the references, he just hung them out there like we were supposed to be
impressed that he knows about these things.
I think he even said
something about Angry Birds. Dated, sure, but it did the job of letting
us know that the guy speaking also used a smart phone at some point in
the last five years. OMG! He totally gets us!
The word “Gospel”
made maybe one appearance in his message. The words “truth,” “sacred,”
“reverence,” “sin,” “hell,” “virtue,” “obedience,” and “duty” were
conspicuously absent, just as they’re absent from most sermons delivered
in most churches, everywhere in the country. Of course he did throw in a
friendly helping of “friend” and “helping.” And “tolerance.” Obviously
tolerance. It’s important to only preach the sort of principles we can
practice from our couches, you know.
Also left out of his spiel: any semblance of an insight, a challenge, a truth, a call to action, or a point.
halfway in, I turned around to get a look at my fellow congregants. Do
you know what I witnessed? Hundreds of captivated churchgoers.
a lot of empty seats. A disinterested yawn echoed through the hall. I
could see the guy next to me fighting to keep his eyes open. I
understood where he was coming from. Maybe this was the plan: stop
people from leaving by putting them to sleep.
Effective, yes, but to what end?