Is the church progressing by adding to its numbers by adapting to the culture?
Let us consider a political analogy. The analogy comes from something heard on talk radio. The Republican Party seeks to attract Independents and Democrats to the Party to enlarge the Party and thus the power of the Party. The Democratic Party does the same in seeking to attract Independents and Republicans.
People are excited to expand the Party and win the election. The problem is that the people coming into the Party are coming in thinking the same as they always have. They are not coming in as a result of converting or changing their opinions, beliefs, or philosophy.
As a result the Party is being changed fundamentally as to what it stands for. No longer is the Party recognizable. Some realize the Party has not gained but lost. It has become something entirely different from its founder’s intentions.
Now, the analogy applied to the Church and Christianity. We are seeing unprecedented expansion in the Christian Church. Ours is the age of the mega church. Church leaders are emphasizing church growth and new methods to produce this growth. Things that were emphasized in the past are offensive to the modern man and must be left alone or given no emphasis so that we can reach modern man and bring him into the church.
It has worked to increase the size of the Church. More bodies, bigger budgets, and better buildings, are all the evidence the leaders need to prove the blessing of God is upon it.
The problem is we are bringing all these people in without conversion or a change of heart. The Bible calls this change repentance. The sad result is the Church has been radically changed. What men call progress is actually loss.
As this has taken place the Church ceases to look like the Church. We are told that all that has changed are methods. But, the observant discerns that something else has happened. The preaching has changed, and not merely in style but in tone and in message. Mature people will note that both our manners and our message has changed.
While not denying the old message outright, what has happened is silence: the old message is being ignored. Without the emphasis in preaching on the Bible’s doctrines and on holiness, complete abandonment of true Christian living follows. Biblical convictions and separation from the world are almost nonexistent. No longer can a difference between the church and the world be seen. The “Christian” and the worldling seem to be cut out of the same cloth. No longer is worldliness worldliness.
Some even justify their own worldliness as a means to reach the world, when the truth is they lack the moral courage and Christian character to go outside the camp and suffer with the Lord Jesus.
The end result is a larger membership, more prestige in the world, but we are uncertain if we are at the church or a ball game or social event. The crowd is larger. The building is nicer. But where did the church go? What has happened to the Church?
The bottom line is people have to repent of their sin, deny themselves, pick up their cross and follow Jesus. Anyone unwilling to do so is unworthy of Jesus. To accept people into the church aside from these terms of the gospel given by Jesus is to change the very nature of the church. Sadly, that is exactly where we find things today.
Do you ever wonder what our forefathers would say about these changes? Probably they would ask the question Moses asked Aaron long ago when he had changed the worship at the foot of Mount Sinai: “What did this people do to you that you have brought this great sin upon them?”