The Problem Defined

by Mark Dever

The church has come to reflect her culture rather than to shape it. The leadership principles of corporate America have made their way into church leadership meetings. The consumerism of suburban malls has infiltrated ministry methods. The therapeutic model of secular counseling has found a comfortable place on the couch in the pastor’s office. And the sins that typify the culture all too often scandalize the church.

We believe this situation has come about because modern church practices have been gradually redefining the spiritual understanding of Americans. In the evangelistic quest to “be all things to all people,” many churches have become “audience-driven,” “seeker-sensitive” and full-service. In the ecumenical quest for unity, many churches have preferred to see doctrine evaporate rather than elucidate.

At first blush, these appear to be worthy goals and promising methods. But too often we have assumed that the church must resemble the culture in order to attract it. And so we let modern methods and mores determine church methods, dressing the church in the mirror of the culture and standing the Bride of Christ on culture’s corner. The bottom line leaves the church indebted to the culture for both strategy and direction, which leads her into unhealthy  compromise that subtly replaces sound teaching with management theory and biblical morality with circumstantial ethics.

As a result, a new perception of religion has quietly become the status quo: a customized faith which makes meeting personal needs the Golden Rule while minimizing commitments to God and others. The consumerism and theological vacuity that so permeate the culture have now penetrated and pervaded the church.

This is why we believe that Christian churches are leading an exercise in cultural accommodation and, in some cases, even surrender. While many churches affirm their belief in God, they look more like the culture than the Christ. Pastors bear a great deal of responsibility for these developments, often abdicating their role as filters for the church and acting instead as conduits for the culture. The result is the steep decline of holiness that is apparent even among many so-called conservative churches.

(this article taken from www.9marks.org)

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