Our problems are more complex than just the need to plant more churches or improving our leadership skills. Attending the next edge cutting edge conference is not going to reverse our growth problems. Unless we are willing to tackle some of the fundamental issues we will see at least a generation of stagnation or more likely outright decline.
Here are the biggies as I see ’em.
10. Christian TV
Most non-believers will only get a brief view of the whacky preacher channels as they surf but even the micronic exposure is enough to prove to millions that all believers are money obsessed and emotionally weird. How can we be taken seriously with this religious circus on TV 24/7?
9. Church Skits as Art High Art
From sappy, poorly acted films to a tsunami of bad paintings, skits and soloists, we are, to put it politely, under-performing in the area of creativity. How can the church have credibility in a visully driven age without rediscovering its place of leadership in the arts?
“Run! The atheist are coming!” is the response of any evangelicals to the advance of materialism. Hiding in small irrelevant enclaves makes for good furniture and jam but does it work that well for reaching the world?
7. Urban Flight.
We have abandoned the cities. Is there any wonder why, for the most part, they disdain us?
6. Sexual Compromise
Twenty years of big name leaders involved in big time sex scandals has rendered us impotent on all ethics issues, especially sexual ethics. Can we tell people true love waits while we indulge?
5. The Celebrity Model of Leadership.
Related to our sexual ethics problem is the list of evangelists, pastors and preachers who have been ruined by a top down view of authority. What is the further cost of not renewing our theology of the Body-of- Christ-oriented servant leadership?
4. Exodus at age 16.
Youth leave the church in droves once they reach age 16. All of our smoke machine worship and pierced youth pastors is doing little to keep ’em. Can we survive while losing 60%-80% of the next generation?
3. Out Classed Apologetics.
The few Christian academics and campus ministers who struggle to love and engage secularist intellectuals do a noble work but they are under-funded, undermanned and largely unappreciated. Average Joe believer is apologetically under-equipped and uninterested. Some Christian “scientists” find T-Rex saddles while emerging pastors blur the line between materialism and faith. Meanwhile, Christianity continues to be characterized by secular deans and doctors as having the same credibility as those who believe in a flat earth. Where is the next C.S. Lewis?
2. Reaching College Students.
Likewise, we complain that the media, government and marketplace misrepresent Christianity yet we refuse to invest in building relationship with these same leaders while they are on campus and still open to hear our message. What would happen if we saw a student awakening on a majority of major universities?
1. Twenty-somethings Rising.
This may be our biggest problem or our perhaps our biggest hope. If we do not experience renewal, for all the reasons above and a few more, twenty-somethings are either going to leave the church entirely or, more likely, use their significant generational power to dismantle the evangelical church. When they take control, and it will be sooner than we think, will the church become an impotent relic or credible force for the historic cause of Jesus?
Did I miss any?