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Churches have become irrelevant; what we can do about it

(Photo: Unsplash/Christian Walker)
(Photo: Unsplash/Christian Walker)

I generally refrain from discussing politics or topics of theological and philosophical importance in the public sphere. I didn’t used to see any usefulness in speaking out. The world will continue to act in unholy and ungodly ways no matter what I say. And my fellow Christians will continue to bicker with each other as we stumble to imitate Christ. Such was how I expected things to continue during my lifetime. But now, seeing how things are evolving and witnessing the peril the Church, I am motivated to write.

I am motivated to write because I am watching the church disintegrate. Our churches have become businesses instead of houses of God. Our small groups often lack intercessory prayer, regular acts of service to our community, and tender hours waiting on the Holy Spirit. Instead of taking our corporate faith seriously and seeking to hear from God, we settle for shallow sermons, hot-topic books, or generalized discussions that leave us looking for answers in the world or from each other.

We could discuss why this happened or how this happened for thousands of pages. I am not interested in discussing those topics here. Instead I am interested in discussing the way forward. We know the church is splintered. We know it could be more effective. We know our theology, doctrine, and message have suffered. We talk about it endlessly. We even lament and lecture to each other how this sect is wrong, this denomination corrupted, ect. Discussing what is wrong or describing an error in the church solves nothing.

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Action solves such things. If every church in a given town has a food pantry then praise God! No one in the community will go hungry. But imagine now if each church that owned a pantry communicated with each other to not only feed their town, but the next town too. What if the churches that had excess reached out to those churches who the knew lacked? What if they even encouraged a joint project to not only feed the community but to provide non-prescription medicine? Or physical exams?

What if we opened our churches to low-income kids to help tutor them? To encourage our young people to go out educate these kids not only on their studies at school- but about Jesus? Or about going to basketball courts and handing out Gatorade or water or snacks just to meet people there and offer them a chance to come to our churches? What about community projects like renovating homes? Or pooling resources in outreach programs? 

I get that all of these are risky. Legally. Physically. Financially. Politically. But we, the church, don’t have a choice anymore. We are already borderline irrelevant. Politicians are already discussing removing our tax-exempt status of our schools and our churches. Mainstream media moguls mock us in their music videos. Elected officials lament our existence in the Halls of Congress.  The media openly calls for new laws to be passed to silence us or force us to live contrarily to our beliefs. True, these things seem tolerable now, but how much longer before the heat is turned up? Are we truly going to base our actions on the premise that those in power in politics and society are going to continue to tolerate us? I don’t think I need to provide evidence to anyone that this is not the case.

We cannot continue to only be as passionate or outspoken as is politically expedient. We must be bold. We must be courageous. We must encourage our pastors, our elders, our ministry leaders to not just bridge the gaps in the church, but to reach out to other churches. We must look to work together in our communities. We must be willing to try radical new outreaches together. We must heal the divisions that the Body of Christ has suffered for so long. We must search for Christ together.

People, especially our younger brothers and sisters, are looking for a church that impacts the community- and rightly so. We are salt and light. And for too long have we have pretended our congregations alone are the bright candle in the room. If we are to be a city on a hill, there are going to be many candles in many windows and doorways lighting the way for God’s lost children to come home. Candles are brighter together, maybe its time we learned that.

Andrew Hinton graduated with a B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology from Liberty University. He currently works as an analyst focused on the Middle East.

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