Monday, March 2, 2009

Why has the church lost its influence?

A few somewhat-random thoughts:

  • As a general rule, the church is not actively involved in the life of the nation's "centers of influence." These locations include:

~ L.A. - Film, television, music - There just aren't many evangelical Christians active in the various fields of media OK - there are several, but they're not out there making much of a difference as far as I can see. A few exceptions: Ken Wales (producer), Andrew Stanton (Pixar), Brian Godawa (screenwriter - so far, limited influence - I hope it's not a flash-in-the-pan), and evangelicalism's latest golden boy, Kurt Cameron (tho' he's beginning to isolate himself in the Christian ghetto more & more, it seems).

I don't count the fact that we've created our own subculture of Contemporary Christian Music [CCM]) - the soundtrack of our self-imposed ghetto. This doesn't influence the culture; it's just "preaching to the choir." To make matters worse, it generally falls far short in the artistic and creative arena. . .too much of following after the world (generally several years after the latest musical trends have come and gone).

To quote Andy Crouch in his book Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (IVP, 2008) , "evangelicalism, so deeply influenced by the Schaeffers and their many protégés, still produces better art critics than artists."

~ New York - fashion, finance, theatre - Where are the influential believers? The one exception that I know of is the Center for Faith and Work - a ministry of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (pastor Tim Keller). They have ministry groups for all sorts of folks - artists, actors, writers, filmmakers, dancers, business-types, teachers . . each focused on "how do we live out our Christian faith in our chosen profession?"

~ D.C. - politics - How much influence - really? 'Nuff said.

  • Why have so many major Christian ministries made their home in what is disparagingly known as "flyover country"? - Colorado Springs? We have formed our own cloistered community - like a gated community in the suburbs. . . away from the city center, where the crime and drugs are found (they're in the suburbs, too - just better hidden). . . But it's the city center where so much vibrancy and life is found. Why are we hiding? What are we afraid of?

Do we serve a mighty God or not? You know, the God that little kids sing about:

"The mountains are His, the rivers are His, the stars are His handiwork, too.
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God cannot do!"
My God Is So Great found in the hymnal "Songs for Life"
Arr. © 1994, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids, MI

Do we really believe it? Or is this just a sentiment for little kids to believe in?


Anonymous said...

Love your post. We are asking many of the same questions.

Unknown said...

We have lost our influence because we are trying to have an influence. We have an agenda, and the world knows it. As much as we decry "the homosexual agenda," "the liberal agenda," or "the secular humanist agenda," we ignore the fact that we are acting in exactly the same fashion. This question begs the further question - what influence are we supposed to have?

True, we have our own "christian ghetto" in the arts - but it's not really a ghetto. It's a niche market. We make products to and for ourselves which attempt to convince us that we can have the same priorities as the world (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness), but with a moralistic twinge to it - and we call that christian. It's not art, it's propaganda. And, it lies. We lie to ourselves, because the Gospel is too dangerous - it doesn't protect our kids or "sanctify the public sphere."

It's actually easier to be a moralistic activist than to be a christian longing for the age to come.