Thursday, October 8

Is The Evangelical Church Still Bleeding?

In his lecture to the National Association of Evangelicals, David F. Wells spoke of the subtle but pervasive influence worldly culture has exercised over the church especially in the last 40 years. She has succumbed to a marketing mentality, judging her growth and therefore success by such measurements instead of Scripturally oriented tests. The result? Wells answers,
In adapting itself to this culture, the Church, far more than was the case twenty-five years ago, is having its character and its purposes, and the way it functions, defined for it. [This was written in 1995] There is nothing wrong with commerce per se, but . . . there is something profoundly wrong in trading Christ, or in thinking that religion is the commerce of the soul.
Will marketing produce success? Wells answers, yes, "but not necessarily much that has much to do with the Kingdom of God." Rather, "it is God who defines our needs and the reason for that is that left to ourselves we would not understand our needs aright because we are rebels against God. We are hostile bot to God and to His law. . . . 
He further offers, "A Church, if it is really true to itself, is never going to be a worldly success. Its gospel is stupid." And here, Wells draws out a powerful biblical lesson:
Many, we know, are called but few are chosen. Much seed is sown, but only a little produces a rich harvest. And when Christ returns is he going to find faith on the face of the earth? Is it right, then, for the Church to prostrate itself obsequiously before the world in this sorry quest to become a going and successful enterprise? . . . An evangelical faith that is not passionate about truth and righteousness is a faith which is a lost cause." . . . But,
What is most lost is what most needs to be recovered. It is the unsettling, disconcerting, moral presence of God in our midst. He can no longer be the junior partner in our religious enterprises and he can never be just an ornamental decoration upon our Church life. It is because God rests so inconsequentially upon the Church that the Church is free to plot and to devise its success in its own way. That is why so many of our forebears in the faith would scarcely even recognize us as their children today.
I highly recommend for every pastor and church leader to read this small but packed booklet. Pray for the Lord to open the eyes of His people so that they may once again proclaim boldly the Gospel of which Paul said he was not ashamed (Rom. 1:16).

Is the evangelical church still bleeding? We'd have to say yes. But it certainly does not have to stay that way. There is power in the blood to save all who call upon Jesus' name. All that remains is for God's people to believe in the power of the Spirit to drive the truth home to the hearts of even the most obdurate of individuals.


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