Thursday, December 18, 2014

2000 YEARS LATER - WHERE IS THE PANIC?

Oh that some of our modern day appointed ‘shepherds of the flock’ would be troubled and panicked, for the right reasons rather that sit and waste the Good News or even worse, treat the church of Christ like some small business to be managed, with these men as their  “CEO’s”.  In Matthew 2, we saw that Herod and all Jerusalem (meaning his “co-conspirators”) – the religious leaders – were in a panic (or troubled) when they discovered the prophesies had come through after hundreds of years and the Promised One was here.  I am sure if you asked any of those religious leaders – the Pharisees (priests); theologians and others – they would all claim they were eagerly awaiting for the Messiah.  Yet, when it finally happened,  we know from history they did not want to give up their power, prestige and possessions.

Well, the Messiah is getting set to return again, and we have almost the same principles of turf-protection, instead of proclamation of the Wrath which is to come, and therefore, the Wonder and Willingness of the Wonderful Savior to forgive all who seek after Him!  We know not the hour or the day or year, but each day is one day closer and Jesus DID give us a command for such a time as this. We are “go and make disciples”.  A disciple is first someone who is saved and born-again into the family of Christ. You know the saying: “born once, die twice but born twice, die once”. This is the main and only qualifying entry point to becoming a disciple.   You are either born again and know it, or you ain’t.  You and I, in our mortal state, cannot just “trust” or convince ourselves that we are saved into eternal life. We have to KNOW that we know that we know and lately, that is not going too well.

Barna Research just released (in early December 2014), some staggering figures as to the state of the unchurched in America and it is worse than ever. Who is to blame? Well – who else? The church and its leaders are to blamed first of all, and then those in America who call themselves Christians, due to the fact that they were born here.

The Ten Facts about America's Churchless - courtesy the George Barna Research company can be viewed and studied HERE.  Just briefly, here are the 10 main headings:

 1. The number of unchurched people in America would make the 8th most populous country in the world.
2. In the past decade, more people in the U.S. have become churchless than live in Australia or Canada.
3. The vast majority of America’s churchless have attended a church.
4. While the churchless are primarily men, the percentage of women in their ranks is on the rise.
5. The unchurched in America tend to be less educated than the churched.
6. The Pacific Coast is home to the largest percentage of churchless per capita.
7. The unchurched are more likely to be unmarried.
8. The younger a person is, the less likely he or she is to attend church.
9. Unchurched adults are more likely to be white.
10. The majority of the churchless in America claim Christianity as their faith.

While the numbers are obviously important in this new paradigm as we see them steadily declining, what should concern us is the reason behind the decline. Just looking at these major headings, which Barna's people went deeper into (click the links above and read), we can note some really troubling things.

Brief Analysis of the Barna Survey Results:
-  Re: Item #3: many of the churchless (or "nones") used to go to church.

-  Item #4: men, especially mostly married men, walked away and left their wives to take care of the spiritual "needs" of their children. We know from multiple surveys, studies and just plain facts, that if the father in the nuclear family leads mom and the kids to church (a real bible-teaching church, that is), the chances of the children being saved and living a life of faith is still currently over 60%. If it is only a single mom, with the father of those children just walking away from her, in spiritual cowardice, that percentage drops down dramatically to below 15%!!! This is where the western hemisphere is caught in a slide towards a bottomless pit of despair.

-  Item #5 of Barna's findings of this intensive multi-pronged survey found that the least educated a person is, the more likely they are to be unchurched! This flies in the face of the liberal charge that a Christian is an ignoramus to "believe all the stuff in that 'old book'"!!! First of all, this finding proves that Christianity is the only religion which is transparent, can be debated without violence and the only belief system where the Spirit of the Living God indwells a true believer to confirm this Testimony! Are there uneducated who are being saved? YES - by the droves! What I suspect is driving this discovery is the decline of the urban church due to crime, hopelessness and politically motivated preachers, combined with the rise of the suburban church - where the majority of the Christian population resides. This has been so for over 50 years and just stayed that way.

- Finding #6 which discovered that the left (or Pacific) Coast of the USA is the most unchurched area in America does not surprise anyone. The land mass from Oregon to Orange County is home to the New Age movement, the amoral high tech and basically anti-Bible Silicon Valley region, the Hollywood elite and the cultural extreme left as well as the horrible pornography capitol of the world, in the San Fernando valley.  There is not just ignoring of Christianity here, but outright hostility against the people of Christ. As always - there is a huge remnant due to the sheer size of this population, yet these churches stand out as they are so few: Shadow Mountain (David Jeremiah) and Grace Community (John MacArthur) Churches come to mind. 

- Findings #7 and #8 are so sad and troubling, each one of us who are committed to Christ for eternity should first weep, then pray for these people. Because the society has devalued the nuclear family (mom, dad, kids) and holy biblical marriage, with the help of married and divorced people, the percentage of young unmarried people is climbing to staggering numbers. They are not only not getting married,  they live in sin (shacking up) and if they do go to church, they hear nothing from these modern preachers, which convict them of their positional transgression against Holy God.  An education pastor of an area mega-church told me that was their biggest problem in their church, yet nothing is done to address it. Compounding this is the lack of parental leadership in training up a child in the way he/she should go so he/she would not depart from it when they grow older.

-  Number 10 has to be the funniest thing ever....if it were not so sad! Previous Barna (and the secular Pew Center Research poll) confirmed that only between 9%-11% of so-called evangelicals have a Biblical World view. Then over 57% of young evangelicals, showing the shame of political correctness), have said publicly that "there is more than way to heaven, than Jesus Christ". Yet, in any national survey, these same people will describe themselves as "Christians" when asked.  To these folks, Christianity is a label which applies only to those who are native born Americans, and therefore, since their grand parents were saved and/or went to church and were therefore, Christians, these people consider themselves "Christians" by extrapolation. One thing they are not aware of - God does NOT have any grand-children. We are either sons and daughters of the King or not.

These terrible facts are heart-wrenching about the present state of "Jerusalem" which is troubled about wrong things, just like its predecessor as recorded in Matthew 2:3 ("When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him."). These are the results of the modern day equivalent of the religious leaders who are more in line with the times and its culture, than the Christ and His pending Return. Can this be turned around? With God, anything is possible, but the scale of revival needed to turn this titanic of a spiritual destruction around requires leadership. Where would the leadership come from if not the under-shepherds of Christ - American pastors? Is this really going to happen? Time will tell, because as long as there is life, there is hope.  However, it can actually come from the prayer warriors of America and evangelists who study the Scriptures and weep for the lost souls, (as we just saw represented in this new shocking Barna survey). So, let's get to work - now!
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