The teaching in our churches lacks relevance to what is going on in our culture, politics, government and in other ideologies/religions that marginalize or demean the Christian faith. Many churches seem oblivious to the undercurrents in our culture and world that are or soon will be negatively impacting our lives. Certainly the personal gospel is central to the Church. But there are only so many times I can listen to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved” and 2000-year old stories about an extinct culture without becoming uncomfortably restless about the lack of connection being made between Scripture and today’s pressing issues.
I recently experienced a Sunday School in a Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) church teaching on the book of Psalms. Now there are literally hundreds of topics in that book that can be effectively related to current events and circumstances that are of critical interest to most folks. This teacher (more accurately, a self-absorbed expositor) was a bearded academic looking "Dr." in his 60's or 70's. Did this learned doctor, who should know better, even attempt any relevance or interaction with his student captives trying to act reverent? None. He was grossly absorbed in hearing his own voice and his own private immersion in his text. How different this presentation was from the teaching of the great PCA preacher D. James Kennedy. He had a handle on relevance. And I’m sure others today do also. But certainly not most.
The book of Psalms relates the dire current events as told by a man immersed in the challenges of leadership and politics of his day that were of critical relevance to his contemporaries. Even Glenn Beck is doing more to garner renewed interest in Christianity than most pastors. Now why couldn't the doctor make the same stab at relevance to his contemporary listeners? He made no attempt at making the text relevant to today’s issues.
Granted, the PCA churches are among the more academic and cerebral denominations out there. But this lack of connection with today’s issues appears to be quite common across the board of Christian denominations. I attended several churches of various denominations recently. They all seem to suffer from the same disconnect. They all appear out of touch with many of the topics of greatest importance to individuals, our nation and our Judeo-Christian-inspired liberties.
The Bible contains countless examples of compelling topics of that day that are just as compelling today. It is a shame that our church leaders and teachers appear to be so immersed in the literal aspects of Scripture and related ancient history that they fail to draw the essential parallels to today's screaming needs. Christianity’s primary sacred text is too often presented in such a way that the connection is not made. Do they expect the average listener to make the connections? I consider myself at least as interested in the Bible as the average church goer. Yet the way I’ve seen it taught lately it may as well be Alice in Wonderland. Are the expositors so far out of touch with today’s issues that they are incapable of relating Scripture to current events and needs?
Bible writers weren't academicians. They were kings and entrepreneurs and political advisors and politicians and revolutionaries. They were deeply immersed in the critical issues of the day. Today's pastors and church leaders? Hardly. I tried approaching a couple of pastors with this observation. Their response. “We don’t want to get political.” Or “we don’t want to offend anybody.”
How knowledgeable are church leaders about Islam, Christianity's greatest threat? How about secularism and materialism, the idols of today? How about "progressivism" that attempts to replace God with government? These challenges are being ignored by our churches.
No wonder mainline denominations are fading. No wonder there is a Christian faith void developing in the West. Something will fill it. Islam will. New age is another. Science and atheism are others. And an all pervasive federal government is filling it in the name of “progressivism.”
The trouble is, none of these alternative void-fillers instill the same set of values that Bible-based Judeo-Christian principles on the founding and continuing operation of our nation, legal system, liberties, and moral code. In contrast, these alternative value systems are materialistic, harsh, unforgiving, and cold. Allow our Judeo-Christian value system to lose relevance because of the failure of our churches and we become an oppressive, unproductive society. But that is our current direction – as long as our churches continue their quest toward irrelevance.