Is There a Greater Opportunity for a New Reformation?
The 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation has come and gone, and Christianity is in steady decline. Part of that is because the Church is not able to declare a true and honest Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people. The Millennials are not going to play around with the church, and many in this generation have grown up in lukewarm churches. They are fed up with this bubble and want to seek something that is different. Like the climax of The Who's famed rock opera "Tommy," the Millennials are "not going to take it." They recognize the commercialization of Christianity. Just as the disciples figured out in their worship of a flawed "deaf, dumb and blind kid."
Certain Christians can point the blame at our schools and media for the decline of Christianity in America. Our Supreme Court forbad prayer in school, and around 20 years later progressive/humanist activist John J. Dunphy declared that the public-school classroom had to become a place to present a "new faith of humanism."
You can also blame our media in both the entertainment and informational spheres for the decline as well as they both push a progressive worldview that runs contrary to the Word of God.
While the mainstream culture is a symptom of Christianity's decline, the real decline in Christianity is the church itself. For far too long, the church has shown a form of godliness but is dying the power. The Church has mixed Biblical truth with the ideals, with certain ideals that don't line up with Scripture. For all the church grown programs that have been embraced, the basics of Law and Gospel have been buried. We also embraced the concert-going experience in the church as well. Sadly, even the most historical Protestant churches are embracing elements of this by bringing in so-called contemporary worship services into their church programs. The Jesus Movement of the 1970's brought in a brief revival of the Christian faith of its time and challenged the apostacy of the historical church of its day. I am afraid to say now they have become the apostacy themselves, for they are falling into the same traps as the established churches in 1960's fell into before.
The decline of the Christian Church is also full of hope and full of harvest. The time is now for Christians who understand what is going on, to make a stand and present something different while getting back to basics. The basics of preaching of God's Law and pointing out that He is jealous and demands worship and will condemn us if we don't repent of our sins. The other side of the coin is that we present the fact that God sent His son Jesus Christ to pay the ultimate sacrifice for our sins and out of that act, shows the love and mercy of God. God is love, but He is also just. That does not make Him mean and nasty but declares that He will advance justice as He sees it. We also need to make the Word of God priority in the shaping of our lives. Now while we can use allegories from certain movies and TV shows that most people can understand and perhaps even point out certain Christian truth if any in these stories, the important thing is to point out the meat of Scripture. The Word of God needs to be a priority over great thinkers from the Greeks up to the present day. This will be hard work for all of us, but it must be done for true revival to take place.
We also need to get back to the basics of church worship and go back to what has worked over the years. The Jesus Movement ushered in a new genre of music based on the current popular music trends of its day. While it was for a time an alternative genre of entertainment for believers, it also crept into church culture, and I believe that it is unhealthy and needs to be flushed out. We need to return to the historical liturgy of Church worship. Why did we use a pipe organ in church worship for many years? By the way, it is called the King of Instruments for a reason. Unless your church service is a capella (which is done in Churches of Christ and certain Reformed/Presbyterian churches), the pipe organ has made a statement for the church congregation to sing along with the organ (which can sustain any note for a long period). The hymns of the church were built in that fashion for the congregation to sing along with, and not focus on an individual performer that sadly became the focus of much of the so-called contemporary worship.
This is also another thing that the Church needs to go back to. That being hymnody and putting the Hillsongs, Passions and Bethel/Jesus Culture's in a less profitable position. Keep in mind that God is the audience and wants us to worship Him. In a sense, we are putting on a concert for Him, while at the same time we are learning about God and His overall story. See how this works? It's an incredible thing. I also believe that it will be the Church that will also preserve quality in the arts as well. Much the classical music and arts have been kept because of a salubrious Christian church. Not all Classical music and art is Christ Centered but believe me, the Church played a significant role in this. It will not be the government handouts that saves higher culture.
If anyone spoke greatly of higher culture and its impact on the Gospel it was Martin Luther:
"These songs were arranged in four parts to give the young – who should, at any rate, be trained in music and other fine arts – something to wean them away from love ballads and carnal songs and to teach them something of value in their place, thus combining the good with the pleasing, as is proper for youth."
You see, even Luther had issues with what was considered to be 'Pop Music' of his day. I don't think he would be a fan of Hillsong or at least be disgusted with its impact on church culture. The rising generation as syndicated radio talk show host Mark Levin calls Millennials is ripe for another honest reformation. Let us prove to Levin (who is Jewish) and the rest the world that "rising generation" is truly an accurate term.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in [a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. " Matthew 28:19-20 ESV