Over the last couple of days, I have had more than a few people seek me out to discuss their frustrations and disillusionment with the Evangelical Church in the United States. These people are neither part of my church, nor are they pastors/ministers. Some, I had never met before. All claimed to be Christians and faithful attenders to evangelical churches. At least one, was from a mega-mega church, in another state then where I pastor. They all had the same concern: “Kevin, I am fed up with evangelicalism and can’t take it anymore. Their unbridled support of President Trump, and now, their refusal to speak out against white supremacy, white nationalism, hatred and bigotry. I don’t know how much more I can take.”
Now, before you throw me under the bus, please understand that I have sought these people out, and I have not told them they need to leave their church. I have tried to “talk them off the cliff” and explain what I think is the problem. I have tried to refocus their attention on Christ, and His Sovereignty, and not “pile on,” even though I share their frustrations.
I think the Church (and by “Church,” I mean the Evangelical Church in the United States) is going through a pruning process. I believe Jesus is separating the wheat from the chaff and the sheep from the goats. If we truly are the branches, and Jesus truly is the Vine, every once in a while, as the Vigneron, He has to cut away the dead branches and dispose of them. It’s a painful process, but the end result is fine wine.
I think, the reason we are where we are as a Church is because of our over-emphasis of individualism. Whether we are willing to admit it or not, for decades (if not for the last century) we have placed the needs of personal salvation above social reclamation. Don’t misread what I just said. Personal salvation is extremely important, but just as important is social reclamation. It’s not one or the other. It’s both. Jesus came to reconcile people to God. But He also came, announcing the kingdom of God, a new social order. We have concentrated on saving individuals while society has been left to go to hell. We preach individual sins and individual repentance, but avoid like the plague speaking out on social sins and calling for communal repentance. The result? The Evangelical Church looks beautiful on the outside (“look at all the individual people underneath the beautiful steeple”), while on the inside there is corruption and abuse and power seekers.
Here is an example:
I have been accused of being too political. I have been told to “keep to preaching the gospel” and stay away from social issues that are more political then spiritual. But how can you read Luke 4:18-19 and Matthew 25:31-46, and not conclude that the gospel is social and political and individual?
Usually, when people say I am too political it is because they have heard me talk or right about poverty, gentrification, and racism. All are social sins. My response is, “If I were speaking out against abortion (an individual sin) and homosexuality and same-sex marriage (individual sins), you would applaud me for my courage and conviction. But I talk about unrestrained capitalism and the death-penalty and livable-wages, you think I am being too political.”
And that’s the problem with the Evangelical Church today.
We need fewer people in the pews on Sunday, and more people in the public square, crying over the social sins that are destroying our country.
We have fought the wrong battles.
We have called out the wrong sins.
We have preached the wrong sermons.
We have lost our moral authority.
We need to listen to prophetic voices.
We need a time of corporate repentance.
Only then will God send revival.