The author’s solution is as troubling as the problem. First the author states that the Church has an identity problem and then ends with this advice to the Church, “new ways of relating to Americans and exposing the heart and soul of the Christian faith are required”.
The heart and soul of the Christian faith is the Bible and this is the one thing that no one wants to face. Teaching is the problem; this does not mean more preaching…it means more teaching that takes the Bible as literal truth. Trying to spiritualizing the Bible has not worked, and trying to add entertainment has not worked, and community service without the Gospel is secular busy work. Without good teaching there is no hope…not just a series of verses, but an understanding of God’s total plan Genesis to Revelation.
6. The influence of Christianity on culture and individual lives is largely invisible.
Christianity has arguably added more value to American culture than any other religion, philosophy, ideology or community. Yet, contemporary Americans are hard pressed to identify any specific value added. Partly due to the nature of today’s media, they have no problem identifying the faults of the churches and Christian people.
In a period of history where image is reality, and life-changing decisions are made on the basis of such images, the Christian Church is in desperate need of a more positive and accessible image. The primary obstacle is not the substance of the principles on which Christianity is based, and therefore the solution is not solely providing an increase in preaching or public relations. The most influential aspect of Christianity in America is how believers do--or do not--implement their faith in public and private. American culture is driven by the snap judgments and decisions that people make amidst busy schedules and incomplete information. With little time or energy available for or devoted to research and reflection, it is people’s observations of the integration of a believer’s faith into how he/she responds to life’s opportunities and challenges that most substantially shape people’s impressions of and interest in Christianity. Jesus frequently spoke about the importance of the fruit that emerges from a Christian life; these days the pace of life and avalanche of competing ideas underscores the significance of visible spiritual fruit as a source of cultural influence.
With the likelihood of an accelerating pace of life and increasingly incomplete cues being given to the population, Christian leaders would do well to revisit their criteria for "success" and the measures used to assess it. In a society in which choice is king, there are no absolutes, every individual is a free agent, we are taught to be self-reliant and independent, and Christianity is no longer the automatic, default faith of young adults, new ways of relating to Americans and exposing the heart and soul of the Christian faith are required.
Published on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 @ 5:57 AM CDT