Membership in the Southern Baptist Convention has declined for the fifth straight year. Christians are disturbed by this trend. It follows the same decline in membership encountered by other mainline protestant denominations.
What is the solution? What is the problem?
I suspect it has something to do with the fact that our churches have too heavily compromised with the humanist (pagan) culture around us. God calls us to be set apart from surrounding pagan cultures because we are His people. Instead, we have increasingly compromised with them and failed to heed Moses’ ancient warning to the Israelites before they conquered the pagan cultures in the Promised Land:
“…take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.‘ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.” (Deuteronomy 12:30-31)
Paul warned the church also:
“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart…as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:17-24)
NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD
When young people go to church and find it to be no different than the secular humanist culture around them — in public schools, on TV, at college — then why should they continue wasting their time on the “humanism-lite” diet when they could just engage in the real-deal?
Youth ministries that employ young women with tongue rings — which are explicitly sexual in nature — or rock-and-roll singers to lead their youth are simply preparing them for an easy transition into deep debauchery once they get out on their own.
Are we to worship the triune God of all creation in the same manner that we worship the gods of rock-and-roll?
At the opposite end, we find congregations ensnared by culturally-withdrawn piety that teaches young members that Christians aren’t allowed to have any fun. They teach us to be withdrawn from culture. This isn’t what Christ teaches, either.
God wants our church to be set apart. Christian culture should be set apart from the evil culture that surrounds it. Our compromise with paganism has watered down our principles and culture, and it is understandable why church membership is shrinking.
God’s promise of curses for disobedience was clear:
“And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 8:19-20)
It’s time we take action against secular humanism and take back our culture, little by little. There can be no compromise with the enemy.
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