Our Shallow Christianity

Disclaimer, this might be a bit of a rant and is not my normal style.

Our Christianity in America is dead.  It’s not dying, it’s not sick, it’s dead. The corpse just hasn’t collapsed into the grave yet.  And if you think that’s an extreme statement, buckle up because I’m going to say a lot more inflammatory stuff than that in this article. Christianity in America has already reached where England was twenty years ago and will continue to plummet. However, true Christianity is all but extinguished in this nation. It probably will be extinguished by the time I die, with the exception of a scattered few churches.

Let me illustrate where we are in America. I recently moved states, meaning I needed to find a new church. Since, as you may have figured out, I’m a bit traditional, I expected it would be a bit hard to find a church. I had no idea. In the time since my move, I have visited well over a dozen churches that have advertised themselves as traditional, Bible-based churches. I can count on two fingers the number of churches where the number of people under fifty, other than the pastors family, was higher than one, me.  Where are all the young people you might ask? I’d suggest checking either the local bar or the prosperity gospel church down the street. The church for the last fifty years or so has been preaching such a shallow message that the only people left are the ones who grew up in the church.

Please understand, this is not an indictment of every church everywhere. I’ve been in good churches and I know other people who report that their church is very good. But let’s be honest here, the church has bled young people for the last several decades and shows no signs of stopping. Why is that? I’m going to argue for a couple of reasons.

Parents have failed. Not every parent has failed and not every wayward child is the parent’s fault. But when parents as a whole became preoccupied with their own pursuits and left the training of their children to the government schools and the church, we should not be surprised that the children are more interested in the things of the world than the things of God. God isn’t taught in the schools but materialism is. And what do we see, even in our churches? Materialism.  Some might argue that the church is partly to blame and I’d agree (more on that in a moment) but ultimately the responsibility for educating a child rests squarely with the parents. That’s a Biblical fact.

Since they were not, and are not getting it at home, what has Christianity at large been teaching our children? When I was growing up, the answer was Veggie Tales.  A talking tomato and cucumber presented heavily edited Bible stories and portrayed them with a decidedly shallow, empty flavor.  By contrast, by age 12, many Muslims have completely memorized the Koran. And we wonder why people see them as a better option than Christianity? They actually are devoted to their religion.  How many Christians have more than John 3:16 memorized? And what are we teaching in Sunday School, Children’s Church and youth groups? By and large, it’s all what Ken Ham calls “fluff ‘n stuff.” It’s a lot of crafts, word games, excitement, music, silly games, and very little depth of Scripture. How many youth groups spend the majority of their time in deep discussion of God’s Word? I have been around a lot of them and I can count on one hand how many were worth the time put into them. Sunday School and junior church are often the same thing or are simply babysitting.

What is the result? I coached a Christian sporting team for five years. It was rare for me to hear my players talking about the Bible. Sometimes they did and it always thrilled me to hear. Mostly what I heard was how much fun they had at the last youth group, how much they were enjoying the latest R rated movie or video game, or what celebrity musician was hooking up with someone else.  The only real difference between the young people I worked with and the average young person is they generally treated each other with respect and they didn’t swear.  Of course, they knew there would be consequences from me if they did not behave appropriately, including no playing time. I loved those young people but I have to acknowledge that most of them were only culturally Christian. It hadn’t penetrated their hearts.  Whatever happened to Christians being different? Being consumed with the things of God?

I am absolutely not absolving myself by the way. I’m far from perfect and it is easy for me to get distracted by the things of the world too. But I’m calling out what has happened to us.

Now, what can we do to fix it? Everyone has a solution but I think we need to address the Biblical issues in play.  We need to restore foundational Biblical teaching on every issue. This starts in Genesis, but we need to address that even those grounded on the Biblical foundation in Genesis are still equally shallow.  The church needs to get its head out of the sand and its body out of the world and recognize we will not have any church left if we don’t act! It can only happen in one church at a time.  And you can lead the way. Start a Bible study, keep your children in the service with you, or revise their Sunday School/ junior church curriculum.  Pull your kids out of the youth group if it’s shallow, throw their cell phones away, turn off the TV and sit down together for a Bible study.  If you have a good youth group, then support it, but don’t rely on it. Teach your kids yourself. If your kids are grown, teach their kids.  We’ve been lazy too long. Change only happens if we get off our rear ends and actually do something! If you’re the shallow person I described, change or stop complaining about the culture. If you won’t do anything to change first yourself, then to reach others, you’re part of the problem so either fall in behind the people trying to fix it, or get out of their way. Jesus is coming back one day and how do you want Him to address you….well done, disappointment, or I never knew you?

Endnote: I am aware that people may critique this by saying “God could send a revival!” Yes, He could, but He only does that when people consistently pray for it….so for the person thinking that, when was the last time you begged God on your face to give our churches revival? And did you do it more than once?

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