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What does a relevant
church look like? 
  • A church - to be relevant - must address the issues that dominate its time - the issues that are on almost everyone's mind ...
  • that comprise the conversation at most dinner parties, campaign rallies, and coffee klatches; 
  • that are talked about around the water cooler at work; 
  • that are made the subject of academic lectures and are endlessly analyzed by political pundits the world over. 
Those events must become the backdrop against which the gospel is preached. Yes, the gospel must be preached unabashedly and without compromise - without conceding ground to the cultural mind-set that comprises that backdrop; but without that backdrop, it won't resonate in the minds and hearts of unbelievers.
And that's precisely what the evangelical church has not been doing for at least the last twenty years or so. She has, with a few notable exceptions, deliberately turned a blind eye to those very issues - and when occasionally she finds herself backed into a corner and forced to address them, her response is fragmented, dull, and lukewarm - lacking passion and replete with compromise and ambiguity. It's no wonder, then, that the evangelical church here in America and throughout the West is becoming irrelevant and stagnant - especially among the youth. 

A study released in 2005 warned that the evangelical church is hemorrhaging her youth ... 

"... the evangelical church (is bleeding) internally - especially her youth. They are checking out of the church when they leave home for college - (with the result) that many 20-somethings who were formerly regular, faithful members of youth groups are opting out of the church."

And, by implication, it warned that not only was it likely to continue, but that it would actually worsen. And, sure enough, in 2012, the Barna Group, a highly respected non-partisan polling agency confirmed the 2005 prediction, even echoing many of the same words and phrases used in that earlier study ...

"Overprotective. Shallow. Repressive. These are all words some Christian youth have used to describe their faith experience. That perception no doubt explains why recent studies show that more than half of all Christian teens and 20-somethings are distancing themselves from today's Church."

The world is spinning out
of control
And what exactly are the issues today's evangelical church is so deliberately, so consciously ignoring? It all boils down to the ever growing sense that mankind has lost control - that events have catapulted past the constraints world leaders have tried to impose - that we're engulfed in a series of crises that can't be checked: military crises, political crises, global economic crises, cultural polarization, a disorienting loss of moral certainty, civil strife, legislative paralysis - all apparently dove-tailing together to form in the not too distant future one single world calamity. 

That's the issue on everyone's mind; and that's precisely the issue the church won't face up to - except when she's forced to - and then tepidly - almost apologetically. 

The real tragedy here is that the church, more so than any other human institution, is uniquely equipped to address this matter. That's what the prophetic scriptures are all about. And that's exactly what pastors, for the most part, refuse to address from their pulpits and in their Bible studies - prophecy.

Pastors are frozen in a state of paralysis - not wanting to "rock the boat;" not wanting to raise troubling issues; and, in some cases, untrained and unequipped themselves to teach on prophecy with any real intelligence and perspicacity. Church leaders seem terrified that they'll be cast in a "Harold Camping nut-mold;" afraid of being ridiculed for teaching prophecy with passion and conviction - afraid of affirming that, yes, we are indeed living in 

The youth abandoning an irrelevant church
the End Days with the Tribulation right around the corner. 

And so the church lurches onward - descending into an ever deepening pit of irrelevancy - with her youth walking away - looking for a cause worth dying for and not finding it in today's luke-warm church. Shades of Laodicia.


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