Is The Church Falling Apart?

I was reluctant to read an article that was recommended on social media recently. It was one of hundreds that I have come across that seem to follow a common line of thought. This line of reasoning goes something like this. If you take a stand on certain “political” issues, you are putting your faith in politics rather than in Christianity.

Of course, the problem with this line of reasoning is that many spiritual matters have been moved into the political arena and, therefore, prove that one’s political views are more important than one’s faith. I am not writing this blog as response to this type of thinking. Instead, I am simply giving you the context of the article that I decided to read.

As I read through the article, I came across something that caught my attention and caused me to slow down and read the words more carefully. The author of the article interviewed several Christian leaders. One of those leaders was James Ernest of Eerdmans Publishing. He was quoted as saying,

What we’re seeing is massive discipleship failure caused by massive catechesis failure. The evangelical Church in the U.S. over the past five decades has failed to form its adherents into disciples. So there is a great hollowness.

It was explained that catechism is the process of instructing and informing people through teaching. Ernest said that the Church has failed to do this type of teaching.

Alan Jacobs, a professor at Baylor University, stated that,

Culture catechizes. Culture teaches us what matters and what views we should take about matters…On the flip side, many churches aren’t interested in catechesis at all. They focus instead on entertainment, because entertainment is what keeps people in their seats and coins in the offering plate.

Jacobs went on to explain,

Pastors…get to spend, on average, less than an hour a week teaching their people. Sermons are short. Only some churchgoers attend adult-education classes, and even fewer attend Bible study and small groups. So, if people are getting one kind of catechesis for half an hour per week and another for dozens of hours per week, which on do you think will win out?

As I continued reading, I realized that behind all the politicization that permeated the main thrust of the article was a clear articulation of the real problem today’s church is facing — we are not making disciples! And I must add, it isn’t because of politics. It is because of the ideas or worldviews that are shaping our minds — especially the minds of our children and youth.

Ernest and Jacobs understand that the condition of most people who call themselves Christians is a lack of biblical thinking. They realize that the church does not have the opportunity to biblically shape the minds of its members because the church has influence over them for such a small amount of time each week.

This reality was noted in some more of what Jacobs said.

People come to believe what they are most thoroughly and intensively catechized to believe, and that catechesis comes not from the churches but from the media they consume, or rather the media that consume them. The churches have barely better than a snowball’s chance in hell of shaping most people’s lives (emphasis mine).

What continues to amaze me is that these people see how the church cannot compete with the culture because of the church’s limited time of influence on lives. However, they only see this when it comes to the lifestyles of the church’s adult membership.

Even if the church had more hours of influence in the lives of its adult members, I wonder if it would make any significant difference in how they look at life. I say this because adults have developed their worldview or belief system at a much younger age. Once this is developed, it is very difficult to change one’s worldview.

The real problem is that most Christians continue to send their children into secular educational institutions, at all grade levels, where they are bombarded daily from a secular, anti-Christian worldview perspective. If the few minutes an adult sits under biblical teaching each week can’t compete with the media’s influence, how much more dangerous is it for children to have their minds molded by today’s secularized schools?

Until the home, church and school are ready and willing to address the issue of education biblically, we will continue to lose future generations to the world. It won’t be because of their political views. It will be because we have failed to make disciples of our children and youth and allowed the culture to disciple them!

Referenced article: The Evangelical Church Is Breaking Apart by Peter Wehner, The Atlantic.

Glen Schultz

Author Glen Schultz

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Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Mike Bryant says:

    Spot on. This article clearly tells the story.

  • Richard Hawkins says:

    A most excellent discussion. Thank you Dr Schultz.

    It is interesting to note that over 100 years ago J Gresham Machen lamented that professing Christians were Biblically illiterate. However, the homes did appear to disciple good moral character in the children until the media in the 1950s began to tear that effort apart.
    A person’s worldview precedes politics. As Dr Shulz properly stated, the predominate worldview of this nation was inculcated in the government’s brainwashing system commonly mislabeled “public education.” That worldview is cultural Marxism, a transitional worldview leading this nation into a Marxist Technocracy. This brainwashing has been going on for many generations beginning in the universities in the 1950s. It’s the “slow march through the institutions” that the Communist, Antonio Gramsci, professed. The seminaries and Christian colleges have been infiltrated with this worldview as well.

    I’ve been told that speaking out against this satanic system of miseducation (let’s call it what it truly is; discipleship) from the pulpit will make teachers (trained change agents) in the congregation “feel bad” along with the parents that can’t afford a proper Christian education for their children. There is a fear that people will leave the congregation if this truth about education is spoken.

    There is a significant misconception about politics within the church as well. Cultural Marxism redefines words and the Biblical definition of politics has been lost as the church, in general, has abandoned this aspect of scripture. It’s time the church reclaim this and teach it. The Biblical definition is based from Romans 13:1-6 and follows:

    POL´ITIC̵S, n. [Fr. politique; Gr. πολιτικη. See Policy.]
    n name or noun.
    The science of government; that part of ethics which consists in the regulation and government of a nation or state, for the preservation of its safety, peace and prosperity; comprehending the defense of its existence and rights against foreign control or conquest, the augmentation of its strength and resources, and the protection of its citizens in their rights, with the preservation and improvement of their morals. Politics, as a science or an art, is a subject of vast extent and importance.

    Webster, N. (2006). Noah Webster’s first edition of An American dictionary of the English language. Anaheim, CA: Foundation for American Christian Education.

  • BOB SEGAVE says:

    So many young families have made the sacrifice to send their children to private schools for this reason. It may mean less vacations or dinners out, but our children and our future is more than worth it.

  • Karl Priest says:

    Atheists don’t send their children to an evangelical Christian Sunday School one hour per week, but Christians send their children to the atheist public schools 30 hours per week. I am a retired teacher and unequivocally proclaim that there is no hope for America as long as Christians and conservatives allow their children to be indoctrinated in the public schools. We must rescue our children!
    Please ask me for more information. I am not raising funds or selling anything.

  • Johnathan says:

    Yeah, I read the same article and you missed the point. The point isn’t that we all need to send our kids to Christian school. The problem is that faith doesn’t permeate the lives and loves of the adult church members (i.e. they are not real disciples). If they were, “church” would happen everyday at home, not once a week on Sunday morning. Sunday is a chance to be encouraged to keep living like a disciple on Mon – Sat; it would be a chance to show and share the real love of Jesus to/with a visitor.

    The children of disciples can go into a secular environment and be light and salt to those around them because their parents model authentic faith at home. You can complain that politics is encroaching on the religious, but a disciple doesn’t see a difference. The disciple choses to seek change through submission and obedience to God. He doesn’t put his hope in the “kingdoms of this world.” He puts his hope in the live-changing power of the Holy Spirit to change those around him, then he teaches those around him to do the same.

    • Glen Schultz says:

      I agree that the home is the key link. However, I don’t find Scripture applying the “salt and light” argument when it comes to educating children. Jesus made this statement to His disciples not to children (Matthew 5:1). We are warned numerous times in Scripture to avoid false teaching and secular education is false teaching. When children sit under teaching that is totally secularized, they will become like their teachers.

  • Mark Kennedy says:

    Would it make much of a difference if every Christian family was compelled to send their children to Christian schools and every church going parent was forced to attend Bible classes and courses on the Christian family? I don’t think so. I think we’re seeing an issue here that goes deeper than just lack of knowledge. It comes down to the priority of the heart. A person is unlikely to seek God’s Kingdom first if power or appetite or prestige are his true primary goals. For a person to turn away from those things or to minimize them, his heart has to change. That’s why we need to be praying for revival in our nations.