(This week’s blog postings are adapted from the theme address, “Preaching Under Pressure,” presented at the EK Bailey International Conference on Expository Preaching in July.)
There was a time when the church was at the center of most American communities. Sunday morning was reserved for the worship services in the churches, and even Sunday night was a time that few activities were planned, because so many churches still had services.
Today, the culture acts as if the church doesn’t exist, or at most is just one more special interest group. Soccer games, school events, community celebrations – why wouldn’t you do those on Sunday morning? Church? Oh, do you still go to one of those?
In his book Lost and Found, Ed Stetzer reports that in the vast group of younger unchurched adults, more than 80 percent believe in God, though most of those believe that “the God of the Bible is no different from the gods or spiritual beings depicted by world religions such as Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism.” (And that is in spite of the fact that more than 60 percent said they attended church when they were growing up – did we teach them anything?)
Stetzer notes that 90 percent of those young unchurched adults believe “they do not need the church in order to have a good relationship with God or to learn what it means to be a Christian.” And only one in six said they would seek out the church if they needed inspirational guidance. So for the next generation coming along, church is something that plays no role in their lives.
We preach under pressure because the church is struggling and the world doesn’t care.
(more on this tomorrow)