Christianity Today on-line recently posted the results of a survey of Christians that reveals the diversity of fidelity and opinion amongst believers. In an article titled “5 Kinds of Christians,” many of the things I have long suspected about Christianity in the U.S. have been confirmed:
- The faith of a vast majority of Christians in America is a cultural expediency or a “default position” – the largest segments of Christians identified in the article are “Private Christians” and “Cultural Christians.” Private Christians constitute 24% of those surveyed, and their features include: a belief in God, doing good things, and owning a Bible but not reading it. Cultural Christians make up 21%, and are defined by few outward religious behavior or attitudes, an awareness of God, and a leaning towards universal theology.
- Consumerism has taken hold in the church – From the article: “‘These days, people can get good teaching, wonderful music, and excellent writing, whether through iPods, TV, or online,’ says Wilkerson. ‘They learn to shop around and pick and choose. Then they expect the same high quality in their local church. A generation ago, the average person learned to accept his home pastor and was faithful to his local church.” and “we probably end up perpetuating that kind of appetite by trying to be as high-quality as what we find out there. The temptation of larger churches is to compete and to be as good as the others are.”
- Media personalities are dominant – Again from the article: “Private and Cultural Christians might not use traditional Christian media, but I would bet they disproportionately watch [Lakewood Church pastor] Joel Osteen on cable,” …[shudder]
- Apologetics needs to be a priority for all believers, not just theologians – From the article, yet again: “Many churches feed their congregants a steady diet of messages that do not require intellectual engagement or an understanding of the biblical narrative. And that is a huge problem.” Hunter says, “We need to preach with apologetics in mind, with a rational explanation and defense of the Christian faith in mind, so that the people who are in the church really know how to phrase that to people who aren’t in the church. We should say, ‘You need to be able to tell other people what I’m telling you.'”
I have been saying these things for years. So believers, what do you think we need to do?
For church of Christ readers:
For a while I have been enjoying the writing of Bill Gnade over at Contratimes. A writer, photographer, and self-described “Episcopal-in-exile,” Gnade’s post on a recent worship experience at the church he currently attends is a must-read for anyone in our fellowship on either side of the seemingly endless A Capella – instrumental music discussion. Enjoy.