Over the years, many of us have noticed a significant cultural shift. My travels all over the country have revealed Christian morale that has been shrinking at the same rate as congregational attendance. Older brothers and sisters recollect how they once attended a “gospel meeting” with several hundred, maybe even a thousand participants. “We would meet all month!” whereas they turn to the modern day and complain that we can’t even hold the attention of those who claim to be followers of Christ for even a day, let alone a weekend. They are right. My own childhood not that long ago was filled with full worship services; every congregation I visited during those years had well over a hundred people present. Along the west coast, those numbers have been halved in twenty years. And it isn’t only here. The so-called “Bible Belt” of the South has also seen tremendous declines in their numbers. Recognition of God’s existence and supremacy among the average person has severely diminished. The denominations have attempted to adapt in various ways, many disastrous, leading them and their listeners back into captivity.
The conversation of adaptation is therefore a scary topic among the brethren, and for good reason, because we’ve seen many a Christian use “adaptation” as an excuse for self-chosen opinions, otherwise known as “heresy”, and apostasy. But a prevailing call to “do something” feels like the required reaction to this kind of cultural revolution. But, my dear brethren, before anything can be done, we must first identify what the actual problem is. What is it exactly that is going on in our world’s culture? Unfortunately, that is a hard question to answer succinctly. Assessing and diagnosing it is going to require thoughtful investigative work and moral courage from everyone. First, I think that it is important to note that the culture has by and large left us behind, rather than Christians growing out of touch, as the accusation is commonly made. It could actually be said that we have grown out of touch because the world refuses to be reached. Second, while we know that the root cause of the current culture is Sin, and that its present result is decay and death, it is important to learn from history to trace the ideological lines that connect the two. Only then can effective adaptation be made, and we will find that our changes will actually take us further into the past, rather than into a progressive future.
Over the years, I’ve engaged in the pointless catharsis of bemoaning the current state, and I will probably do it again at some point, though I hope to heretofore abstain. Because as of now, I am excited about the prospects of a Church in the underground, that makes no allusions to friendship with the world and her ideas, but makes a decisive resistance in the struggle for souls. Besides, “Do not say, ‘Why is it that the former days were better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this” (Eccl. 7:10). The better days are ahead of us, especially in eternity.