Why the Church Has Lost Its Power in America

Why the Church Has Lost Its Power in America

Elijah thought he was alone in his day, serving God with his whole heart. He thought the spiritual battle was lost for his generation and just wanted to quit after all his wonderful efforts to love God and stand alone for Him. However, he was not alone, and God was not finishing using him (see I Kings 19).

We have been called to serve Christ in just such a desperate day. America has lost so many of its distinctively biblical churches. The revealing light and transforming power of yielded and committed believers is flickering weakly in many of our towns and cities. The extent of compromise with the world varies greatly, but it is often hard to find local bodies of Christians that are so out of step with their secular culture as to be even noticeable. The presence and power of a grieved and quenched Holy Spirit is not seen throughout much of our land. A reformation is needed, and it must begin with God’s people.

How has this happened? Understanding what has happened to our culture, our churches, and many of our most committed believers is a necessary first step to pursuing with enthusiasm and confidence the strategy God has designed and revealed for our day. He has called us at precisely this time in history. He wants men and women of conviction who understand the times in which we live.

THE TREMENDOUS MOVEMENT OF OUR CULTURE TO SECULARISM, HUMANISM, AND RELATIVISM

During the last thirty years, our American culture has moved far away from its fundamental biblical values and principles. Secularism is simply leaving God out, and most Americans today are secularists. The idea of a sovereign, holy, personal God is no longer a foundational mindset for most Americans. They have no fear of God. Even if He exists, they do not believe He engages man in time and history. Eighty-five percent of our children attend public, government-run schools, which, for the last three generations, have gradually silenced a biblical worldview and presented life without God.

Something had to take God’s place as the purpose and reason for living, and it has become man himself. Humanism is putting man at the center of life rather than God. While the Bible teaches us to love God even to the contempt of self, humanism teaches us to love self even to the contempt of God. America has steadily moved toward a humanistic way of life.

The final characteristic of modern American thought and behavior concerns our morality and decision making. The decision-making of our culture is not generally based on unchanging biblical principles but on personal circumstances. The idea of absolute truth coming from a holy God has become absurd to most Americans. The idea that there are absolute standards of moral conduct is not part of their mindset. They innately believe that circumstances and personal desires are the only factors in making life’s choices. This is called relativism. There are not absolute standards for relativists. Truth and moral conduct is relative—it depends on the situation. For example, abortion, deviant sexual orientation, and abandoning marital commitments are not wrong, since there is no ultimate right and wrong in their worldview.

This secular, humanistic, and relativistic way of life is the very opposite of a biblical approach. Christians are taught to put Christ in, put Him at the center, and make His truth absolute, not put Him out, put a man at the center, and make truth relative. Thirty years ago, much of the secular part of our culture still thought and behaved in ways consistent with a biblical worldview. This is no longer true. The divide has become so great that it has forced believers to make difficult choices in nearly every area and relationship.

THE CREATION OF THE MIXED CHURCH TO BRIDGE THE DIVIDE BETWEEN BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY AND THE SECULAR CULTURE

The mixed church has come about as an attempt to allow a Christian to live a reasonably peaceful life in a culture dominated by secular, humanistic, and relativistic values and behaviors. It is a mixture of biblical elements and secular elements (see Revelation 3:14-22). How much secularism is mixed in with biblical elements varies from Christian to Christian and from church to church.

Let us face the reality that living a consistent, biblical life in a non-Christian culture is difficult (I Peter 4:12-19). American believers, for the most part, have not faced this for generations. It requires costly choices that many are not willing to make today.

For example, why would a Christian send his or her children to be educated by secular humanists who do not believe the fundamental truths of Christianity? Certainly, if there were reasonable options, Christians would utilize them, but private schools are expensive. About 25 years ago, the first wave of Christians began the costly move to homeschooling. The culture opposed them. The educational institutions and the employment opportunities were not accommodating. To choose this route was to be at odds with most everything. How would their children cope in the job market? How could they be successful in careers?

The great majority of Christians have left their children in the public, secular schools of America. They have accepted the mixing of their Christianity in the educational area with the secular influence and values of our culture. The cost of the alternatives is too great.

This is precisely what the vast majority of our churches have done in many areas when faced with either accepting a mix of secular and biblical values or losing their members. The world’s music is now found in our churches. The world’s opinions on marriage are now accepted in many churches. The world’s sexual behavior is now condoned and defended in many mixed churches.

Instead of maintaining biblical values and standards in our churches, the mixed church has openly pursued a strategy of accepting the concepts and behaviors of the culture. “We must win them to Christ by making them comfortable in our churches” is the argument for mixing. It has been a devastating strategy, ruining the holiness, purity, and usefulness of our churches to be light in a dark day.

THE GROWING NUMBER OF BELIEVERS WITHOUT A STRONG CHURCH FAMILY

The widespread “success” of the mixed church and its takeover of even many conservative congregations has often left any committed believers out in the cold. To go to a mixed church is to constantly do battle with non-biblical concepts and lifestyles rather than to be encouraged by like-minded believers. After many years of trying to find a fellowship that upholds God’s design, many have simply given up. Often, they retreat into their families or find fellowship with other families, but the organized church is removed from their life and, often, from their theology.
All this is understandable, but it has its own devastating consequences over time. Believers were meant to live and grow as part of a larger body. The body is God’s design (Ephesians 4:11-16, I Corinthians 12:12-27). It has not done well in America for the last thirty years, and a growing number of committed believers have abandoned it altogether. Many do not have pastors and elders to protect, guide, and teach them. Many, and we can understand why, have no confidence or even strength to deal with compromised pastors and leaders who do not share their basic biblical convictions and will not support them.
As a result, many godly families are trying to make it on their own. We admire them. But at the same time, the lack of godly elders and a loving fellowship begins to take its toll, often in the lives of the children. Many of these families are losing their children to the culture and the mixed church.

THE BIBLICAL STRATEGY FOR THE REBUILDING WHAT SIN HAS RUINED

The challenges of our day are not unique to us. God has clearly outlined in His Word the successful strategy we are to follow. This biblical strategy always works. An overview is given in the article that follows: How to Rebuild What Sin Has Ruined. It explains how to apply this biblical strategy to individuals, families, and churches.

May God bless you as you learn these principles from His Word.