I was away from the Lord for many years, but when I returned I just assumed the spiritual state of things in the world was somewhat the same. I’ve been finding out that I assumed wrong. Observers say we’re now in the “post-modern” era where truth is relative and everyone’s viewpoint is equally valid. Correct faith and doctrine are turning into whatever works for you. They say the Millennials (people born between the early 1980s and early 2000s) and their children have a rapidly declining regard for spiritual matters. Only about one-half of Millennials believe strongly in God and only 40% say religion is very important in their lives (see here). Wow! Things sure have changed since I accepted Christ way back in 1983.
Millennials generally don’t believe the Bible is God’s Word. They don’t believe in sin and eternal judgement. They don’t believe Jesus is God the Son who came to this world to die for our sins. They don’t believe faith in Jesus is the only way to Heaven. For the majority of Millennials, spirituality is a vague, mystical concept that’s unique for each individual, if they believe in any form of spirituality at all. Unfortunately, this all goes for a lot of the Generation Xers as well.
So how do we reach these young, lost people, who don’t have the first clue about sin or Christ, and how do we “do” church to attract them? There are many who say the old ways no longer work. Christian church worship used to be singing some hymns in praise to the Lord and then listening to Holy Spirit-empowered preaching for instruction and admonishment. But marketers say old-fashioned hymns and heavy-duty Bible preaching don’t appeal to the sound-bite, video-game-driven Millennials so church service has become an hour of entertainment with the latest multi-media, concert lighting, and rather shallow messages that challenge or offend no one.
Not just individual churches but Christianity in general is following down this path. One person sent me a comment a couple of months ago complaining that I was too hung up on doctrine. He advised that we should just spread the Gospel/gospel and not be “fish inspectors.” But that begs the question, What is the Gospel? I get the impression that, for many these days, the Gospel is just a big, emotional, hands-uplifted, lovin’ Jesus, warm and fuzzy!
No, I don’t desire to be a fish inspector but I will uphold the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE. Yes, I know; doctrine doesn’t save, Jesus saves. No one was ever saved by being a theologian. But if anyone believes they need to merit any part of their salvation in addition to the finished work of Christ, they’re lost. Period. Christians have no plea before a Holy God other than the perfect, imputed righteousness of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Once we accept Christ and become God’s children we need to follow Him and obey Him with good works but no one can possibly obey their way to salvation.
I realize I’m getting to be an old fuddy-duddy at the age of 59 and I’ll definitely concede the old methods need to be updated “a bit,” but the seeker/purpose-driven churches are following a market-driven, consumer model instead of Christ to such an extent that anyone who upholds the Gospel of grace and reaches out to those who follow a gospel of works is now labeled a “fish inspector.”
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” – Galatians 1:8-9
Postscript: I guess I wrote on this topic today because I’m currently reading and enjoying a biting critique of the seeker/purpose-driven, and emergent churches titled, “The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Post-Modern World,” by David F. Wells. Great stuff! Review to follow down the road.