In a society teetering on the brink of cultural and spiritual oblivion, where the voice of believers often feels muffled, Worship with Wonders Church Pastor Myles Rutherford is challenging an increasingly "silent" Church to "speak truth with love, but with accuracy."
In an interview with The Christian Post, Rutherford, who is gearing up for the release of his new book, Raise Your Voice: An Urgent Call to Speak Out in a Collapsing Culture, lamented how the pandemic and the rising wave of cancel culture have effectively silenced many Christians.
"A lot of people lost the art of speaking about what they believe in," Rutherford, who co-leads the Marietta-based church with his wife, DeLana, said.
"I've found a lot of people don't want to preach the Gospel because it brings accountability and also it offends people. So if you're going to speak the truth, you have to be ready to have thick skin because it will offend."
Rutherford said he felt compelled to write the book after the Lord spoke to him and said, "Hey, I'm offended as well."
"If you look at Jesus, when He flipped the tables over, His disciples said this about Him: 'The zeal of thine house has consumed Him, and the insults of God have fallen upon Him.' We need people right now, in this moment, and this time, to have that Spirit upon them. It's time to flip tables, it's time to speak truth, and help people have a real understanding of who God is."
"I believe if Jesus Christ is going to come back, before that, His Church is going to come back. And it's not just about what they say; it's about the tone that they have, how to speak truth with love, but with accuracy. … A lot of people steer away from hot topics such as abortion, homosexuality, which are two grave blights upon our nation right now, and many nations. We have to raise our voices if there's nobody raising their voice about this."
Rutherford and his ministry are no strangers to controversy due to their bold stance on hot-button issues.
In June, also known as LGBT pride month, Worship with Wonders Church received significant media attention for its outreach to the LGBT community, which included a "Proud to be Delivered" billboard campaign that drew the ire of LGBT rights groups.
Their initiative, though misconstrued by many as anti-LGBT, aimed to share testimonies of those delivered from homosexuality.
"It was not anti-LGBTQ, it was anti-sin," he said. "And what people think the Church is doing is embracing the LGBTQ, but we were eradicating the spirit behind it. I believe it is a very strong spirit of delusion, and it has to be dealt with head-on; you can't really confront something, you can't conquer something that you won't confront."
Whatever the consequences, Rutherford believes God is calling him to boldness. He spoke of a powerful experience that served as the catalyst for the book. While preparing for church service in his closet, he was overcome by tears and felt an intense spiritual burden.
"God just enveloped me right before service. And my wife came in, and I was crying. And she said, 'What's wrong? And I said, God is putting a burden on me, and I feel it. And I know that if I say no, He'll give it to somebody else. I'm nervous about it.' But I said yes."
"Ever since then, we have fought hell," he said. "We lost many people in our church for the first couple of years. But then, all of a sudden, God flipped a switch over the last year; we have seen such amazing remnant church growth in our ministry and people with the same voice coming around saying, 'We're ready to raise our voice.' It was that moment that completely changed the trajectory of what I preach. And I have not relented."
Now, Rutherford wants to embolden the wider Christian community to do likewise.
He highlighted the significance of the Holy Spirit's descent upon Christ, marking the beginning of His active ministry. Drawing a parallel to modern believers, the pastor said he believes two vital outcomes follow when a believer is filled with the Holy Spirit: becoming a witness and loving even the hardest of people.
"When I say preachers, I'm not just talking about people behind the pulpit. I didn't write this book for people behind the pulpit. I wrote this to let people know that every single one of us is called to preach," he contended.
"Preaching is not about somebody who holds a microphone. If you need a microphone to preach, you're a performer. You're not a preacher, you're supposed to preach in every avenue of your life."
Rutherford said that from the time of the Exodus through the course of modern history when believers and God's chosen people become reticent due to threats of persecution, societies often gravitate towards captivity.
The potential "captivity" of the current generation, he said, may manifest as restrictions on speech, labeled as hate speech, and constraints against discussing divine truths.
"In our generation, the first captivity is going to be 'canceling' — hate speech being redefined that we cannot speak over the things that God wants us to talk about," he warned.
Yet, there is hope, the pastor said. He contends that when just 5% of a group consolidates its intentions, it can transform the entire entity. This concept, termed "critical mass" in nuclear science, can be likened to a spiritual remnant. Rutherford said this united group can catalyze change across nations, as observed with the LGBT community's advancements over the past two decades.
"If you look at LGBTQ, how do they change the nation? They went from coming out of the closet to changing laws in Congress," he explained. "How did that happen? Because 5% of this nation began to rally together through personal partnership community, then through going all the way up to institutions, and then in Congress, even passing laws about [what] marriage looks like. All that happened within 15 to 20 years of a demoralization of a thought, but it came through a group that was united. You got to respect that."
"What if the Church did that? What if we had a remnant that actually came together and stop fussing and fighting? … Let's just believe Jesus Christ and crucified, and let's preach the Gospel."
With the challenges facing Christianity in America, especially with declining church attendance among Gen Z, Rutherford believes that the nation is "one generation away from a godless society." But he is hopeful for a revival.
"I'm offended about what God is offended of, and it's time to see the Church begin to raise her voice and speak the truth about God," he said.
Raise Your Voice: An Urgent Call to Speak Out in a Collapsing Culture is now available for pre-order.
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org