Part 4 of 6
The Barna Group has done a new study and published what it says are the six biggest trends in American churches today:
- The Christian Church is becoming less theologically literate.
- Christians are becoming more ingrown and less outreach-oriented.
- Growing numbers of people are less interested in spiritual principles and more desirous of learning pragmatic solutions for life.
- Among Christians, interest in participating in community action is escalating.
- The postmodern insistence on tolerance is winning over the Christian Church.
- The influence of Christianity on culture and individual lives is largely invisible.
Today we address Item 4:
Item 4: Among Christians, interest in participating in community action is escalating. At first glance this sounds like a contradiction to Item 2. How can a church that is less outreach oriented also be escalating in its participation in community action? Simple. Outreach and community action are not the same thing. Not even close. In fact, in critical ways outreach and community action are at odds. Community action is a function of self interest, though it is often cloaked in the guise of concern for others. Community action is about imposing beliefs, morality, and rules on society. At best community action does good works of the law. At worst it imposes the political and social dogma of the church on its surrounding community. If this dogma were truly virtuous it might be admired, but the dogma of the typical church and the doctrine of Jesus Christ are not nearly so well aligned as we would like to imagine. It is easy to be a “good Christian” by handing out food, repairing an elderly person’s home, or by attending a political rally promoting positive values. These things are not bad, but when Jesus is stripped out we are left with a painted shell. The world sees through the guise and is disgusted by it. When will we see through it, too?