Letter to the editor: The coming relevance of the American church


Over time, much has been written about the persistent decline and increased irrelevance of the present day church in everyday American life. Let’s face it, the church has a lot to compete with. Who really needs God when you have modern antibiotics and surgical techniques. Not to mention air conditioning, modern psychology and psychotropic medications, computers, contemporary 4 wheel drive pickups, iPhones and cheap airfares. 

For our entire lives, young or old we have watched in amazement as America led the world, pioneered color television, FM stereo, put a man on the moon, built Cadillacs and Buicks, developed refrigeration, the wide screen movie format, and sent missionaries out to evangelize and feed the world. Most of us view America as nearly invincible. After all, we survived a civil war, two world wars, a depression and a horrific terrorist attack on 9/11 and we are still here! 

Deliverance of oppressed peoples from despotic rulers on distant shores is just an American air force strike away or a cruise missile attack from completion. Who or what could possibly stand in our way.  Who or what could possibly alter our destiny with economic and social perfection. 

“Who or what.” That indeed is the question, but seldom is the answer to that question one that we really want to face. For when times are good, “it is the standard practice of men to forget that they are men.” To think rather that they can overcome anything they face with just enough hard work and optimism. That they have the power in and of themselves to perfect the world they live in, and on and on it goes. 

Today, it looks as if the American church has in part given itself over to this worldview. In some instances, it has become a weekly motivational workshop. A place where we learn positive thinking, and a “how to” attitude through the medium of music and optimistic preaching and how “god” can in one way or another be “manipulated” though our “not so clever theology” to fit our own agendas. While at the same time, the one true God becomes lost behind the very institutions that were meant to represent Him in the first place!

While “positive thinking” and a “how to” attitude can definitely be worthwhile, I do not believe that ultimately such things will stand in what is to come. For as our living standards continue to crumble due to the federal government’s unrestrained debt and yearly deficits along with all the money printing (because Congress even now refuses to get it). Life for most Americans will slowly begin to unravel.  The times I believe will eventually be so difficult, that no amount of positive thinking or drive on our part to set it right will suffice! 

It will be during this period that the American church (most likely not by its own choice) will once again become a “true and relevant church.” Not so much because of what it can give us in terms of motivational preaching, or manipulative theology, (as much of that will have been abandoned by then) but because of whom it will be forced to point us to. 

For you see, it will be during these coming times that “men will begin to remember that after all, they are just men, and as such, will need something more than themselves to survive.” Not the “god” they have fashioned to suit their own agendas, but the God who is. 

Don’t worry, I won’t give you the “article five” thing this time. But I will say that just as God was faithful to His people in the past, so he will be faithful to those who truly seek him in these coming times.  “God Bless You.” [email protected]

Steven Howard

Monte Vista

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