As the pastor of an evangelical church in the Seattle, Wash., area, I am amazed at the lack of unity of the church in the United States.
Up here in the Northwest, we will never have a problem with running out of constituents. Next to Oregon, we are, I believe, the most unchurched state in the country.
For years, it has been a problem to get the church to do one simple thing, and that is to believe the Word of God does not change, to believe that what the Word of God demands has not changed. In 1 John 3, the writer says there is one thing he wants us to know, and that is to know the Lord Jesus Christ whom God has sent. The second and equally important part of that verse is to love our Christian brothers. I am here to confess that as I look at the church today, both of those concepts, which are of equal importance, have taken a back seat to popularity, acceptance and the desire to be liked. It also tells us in 1 John 3 that simply because we are children of God, people are not going to know us and they are not going to like us.
The problem in the world today seems to be that darkness is growing. The following quote, which I wholeheartedly agree with, from Henry Blackaby says it better than I can:
“If society as a whole seems to be getting darker and darker, it is not the problem of the darkness; the darkness is just acting like its nature. But it is that the light no longer dispels the darkness, and the salt no longer preserves. It is time for the light to say, ‘if things are darker, the problem is with us'” (“Foundation of Revival,” p. 72).
I have always said that we are supposed to be the salt. And if the salt has lost its saltiness, what good are we to be called the Bride of Christ? We wonder why we are having a tremendous fight today to save marriage, to fight for the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. This fact should make us all quiver with the failure that has taken place because we refuse to stand as a church. How many of us ever thought in our lifetime that we would have to explain what marriage is? Further, that we would have to explain that it is between one man and one woman?
We should not be so surprised that that which the Bible calls an abomination – those who practice the homosexual lifestyle – are fighting to quiet us, to get rid of us and to make us irrelevant. Yet it is not those people who are accomplishing this. It is our lack of standing for truth and light. Those who are in that lifestyle should have no power over the church. Those in the homosexual community are accomplishing more than we are because they are at least unified and of one mind in saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with what they are doing.
The church is in bad shape. These statistics and facts gleaned in 2002 reveal the following (“Revival 101” by Dale Schlafer):
- In proportion to the U.S. population, there are less than half as many churches today as there were in 1900.
- Roughly 4,000 churches are begun every year, while 7,000 die and close their doors.
- North America and Europe are the only continents in the world where Christianity is not growing.
- In 1991, 21 percent of all adults were unchurched. In 2002, 34 percent fit that description.
- The United States is the fourth-largest unchurched nation in the world.
- Giving per person in the church is less today than it was during the Great Depression.
- Researchers have discovered that 3,500 people leave the church every day in the United States.
- According to studies by the Association of Church Missions Committees, 250,000 of the 300,000 U.S. Protestant congregations are either stagnant or dying.
- Born-again believers are more likely to experience a divorce than are non-born-again adults (27 percent vs. 24 percent).
Based on these stats, how well do you think we are faring? I believe, as always, there is hope because the Spirit of God is still alive; the Word of God is still as powerful as it was before!
In this open letter, I am calling, pleading and in fact begging for the light to become the light again – for the Bride of Christ to get back its saltiness in a world that desperately needs us. Can you please forget about being liked and being popular? The unbelieving world will never like your stand, but doesn’t it please God when we stand on His Word? How low must we allow the church to get before God brings judgment on us? It has always been the case that there is judgment before God brings a revival.
I don’t know what you think about the last several months to a year, but don’t you find it interesting that nature itself is rebelling? Look at what is happening in our world: storms, hurricanes, earthquakes and floods. Never before in the history of mankind since the flood have all these natural disasters happened at once. Do you believe God is sending us a message? I for one believe that God is asking the church to wake up. I believe God is telling us we can help save all these people by being what He has called us to be.
Some might think I’m nuts. But, in the end, I will be judged by God Almighty. It is because of Him that I stand. I will not be moved or rocked; God will be my final judge. The world growing darker does not have to happen on our watch. Are you wiling to stand with me? Come on church – let’s roll.