Take a minute and think about what you read on Facebook, particularly among Christians.
There’s a lot of preaching, and quoting verses.
Some comment on the hot-button political issue of the moment.
There are the usual posts about food, recipes, what we or our relatives are doing, and other positive, light topics.
Nothing wrong with this. I find it interesting to read what people are saying and doing, and sometimes learn something.
It’s what’s missing that bothers me.
Every once in a while I’ll post something about the surveys showing that two thirds of the men in the church are viewing pornography, or that 75-80% of our youth are leaving the church, or that 7,000 churches are closing each year in the U.S.. Most of the time, there is little to no response.
Most people don’t want to hear about porn. It’s hard enough to get them to talk about sex. Meanwhile, it’s not uncommon to see a sexually provocative ad next to the postings in Facebook with a scantily dressed woman. The world shoves sexual depravity down our throat while we pretend it’s not there. Isn’t that bizarre?
Mention that Phil Robertson…. a TV celebrity… got attacked, and Facebook goes wild. President of Chikfila gets ostracized by the media for expressing his beliefs? Hundreds of thousands line up to eat chicken sandwiches in a show of support; the big Christian names come out and pump out articles about engaging the culture and evangelizing the lost. Tell people that the Church is corrupt with sexual sin, and that marriages and families are being torn apart right and left because of it, or that we must be doing something seriously wrong if so many people are heading for the exits, and you get… silence.
What’s wrong with this picture?
I can’t help wondering if Facebook is a reflection of the church we’ve become today.
Market slogans in Christian media like “Positive and encouraging” and “Safe for the Whole Family” are everywhere. Nothing wrong with this; we all need encouragement. The problem is that if “positive and encouraging” is all we’re about, or we don’t want to hear anything negative, it will keep us from facing and overcoming life’s problems… until someone we knows loses their family to divorce due to porn or adultery… or our teenage son admits he’s addicted to porn, or our daughter is caught sending sexually explicit pictures of herself to her friends. Or someone we’ve known for years announces they’re leaving the church. Like a son or daughter.
There are moments when “keep it Positive and Encouraging” feels like it’s a step away from our culture of tolerance. Don’t do anything to offend someone or make them feel comfortable (like talking about sex or porn). Don’t mention that our youth are bailing in droves. Don’t say anything Sunday morning that will leave people squirming in their seats. We’re Americans, after all.
Let me ask you a question: When is the last time you walked out of church so pierced with conviction that you were broken, and knew you had to change?
Like Facebook, we do lots of preaching and quoting verses. The U.S. has the best seminaries and some of the most gifted communicators of truth in the world. Yet we’re losing our youth, and the church is corrupt with sexual sin.
Few want to talk about it, let alone address the problem effectively.
I see several reasons why:
The culture of tolerance has infected the church. We don’t want to offend anyone or make them uncomfortable. Always be positive, and don’t go there if it’s negative.
We don’t want to face the truth that the American Church of 2014 is corrupt with sin, because it will mean that something is wrong with our way of doing church. I’ve had people tell me that I am giving the church a black eye when I mention such things. We care more about our reputation and looking good than we do facing the core of our brokenness and our desperate need for the grace and mercy of God.
We’re stuck in the way we do church.
If you read the Scriptures you will find there are numerous times throughout history where there were public times of confession and repentance. We’re too sophisticated and smart for that. Give me my theology and doctrine, but don’t force me to get out of my comfort zone and confess my sins to other people. We get just enough of a convicting message on Sunday to make it interesting, but not enough to rock our world. As we leave the church Sunday morning, the smartphones are switched on, and all is forgotten. I hear many people say we need a spiritual awakening, but revivals start and catch fire when God’s people are broken over their sins, are willing to confess and renounce them, and devote themselves to prayer. Which brings me to my next point.
Prayer has been evicted from the church of America.
God calls his church “a house of prayer,” yet our church services are mainly praise and preaching. The early church devoted themselves to prayer and the teaching of the word. We’re great at teaching the word, but prayer is missing. We desperately need to turn some of our Sunday mornings into prayer services. My pastor once said that “Satan laughs when we have a Bible study, but he trembles when we pray.” Prayer is the main power line to the grace and power of God. If we want to see revival, prayer must make a comeback in the church.
We’re afraid to confront people about issues with sexual sin, or that we’re not reaching our youth, because we don’t want to upset people. We don’t want our people to be uncomfortable, and we certainly don’t want to talk about porn and masturbation on Sunday morning. We don’t want to look like a radical nut job or some kind of would-be prophet. We don’t want to blow our reputation as the people “who have it all together,” when in fact, the world knows the truth.
We don’t like mirrors. We like to go after the big bad world for oppressing a Christian celebrity, but we don’t want to have God hold a mirror up to our face and show us the pain of the “fatal tragedy,” as Owald Chambers calls it, of our brokenness and sin. The idea of a corrupt church is painful. It means we’re in dire need of some John the Baptists, Isaiahs, and Jeremiahs to confront us with the truth of who we are so God can cleanse, heal, and restore us.
I believe God’s people are hungry and ready for revival. I believe they want to be challenged, stirred, convicted, and have their comfort zones upset. I believe they’re sick of having sin run their lives. I believe they want more of God and are tired of spiritual mediocrity. I believe they want to make a difference in the lives of others. I believe they want bold leadership that is willing to turn “the way we do church” on its head and go radical by embracing the examples for doing church as it’s shown in Scripture.
They don’t want the Facebook Church; they want the real deal.