Recently I’ve been doing some extended work in Texas and have visited a variety of large churches there, in addition to several in nearby states.
In all these venues I have noticed something I first saw in my home church in Virginia and in one of the area mega-churches over a year ago:
A renewed sense of urgency about the bold Biblical call to be Christians beyond Sunday worship, social hours, and denominations.
Last month I was at AT&T stadium in Dallas, with a capacity crowd of over 100,000 people (and thousands listening outside who couldn’t get in) to hear a call for personal renewal, and a new passion for taking the plain Gospel to the world; a call for authentic Christian witness.
In another recent service with 3,000 mostly young people in attendance, the pastor put it simply; “Listen to me church, it’s time for us to do what we are told to do. Not just listening to a good sermon on Sunday, some great singing, and then going to a nice lunch; but to leave here and do what the Lord told us to do – in every circumstance of every hour of every day.”
There was an exuberant buzz in the audience. They got it.
And, I’m struck by two things. First, all of these churches have been jam packed. And, it is amazing how consistently young these congregations are; they are made up of many young families and young singles, not just showing up, but serving and helping to run the churches.
Perhaps this is the ecclesiastical version of what we are witnessing in Presidential campaigns?
After a generation or more that seemed to emphasize the dumbed down, softer sounding “seeker” churches, unorthodox “emergent” churches, and politically faddish “social justice” churches, is there something new (well, actually old) in the wind?
These “in-vogue” contemporary church models have ostensibly been concerned with molding the Gospel message to be attractive to the declining, wayward culture; but this renewed dedication to solid Biblical teaching and discipleship that I think I’m seeing, may signal a sea change – churches unashamedly using the Gospel of Christ to mold the culture using ancient Truths.
You always want to be careful when you’re interpreting antidotal observations as evidence of a pattern; but, then again, sometimes they are a pattern!
Perhaps it is just coincidence but I’ve been in three large services within the last six months, in three different states, where the congregations were called to come forward in a time of personal repentance and prayer, and they did so in huge numbers.
This call to authentic witness appears to be the recurring theme church to church, if I am correctly identifying what I’m seeing. People are craving the Truth – not watered down or measured out through a cultural filter.
In a slice of time where our public life is being turned upside down by a arrogance of power, lying politicians, and an elite ruling class demanding that we live in an ever-regimented and impersonal way, these churches seem to calling on congregations to do just the opposite; to be radical, 24/7 Christ-followers. To throw away the mold. To stand up and be counted, regardless of the cost.
It’s tempting to be very depressed when you are looking at what is happening the world, and in our country. It’s tempting to give up and shut down.
But an ancient truth is, of course, that God never gives up on us. He is never done with us – in spite of us.
Holding the Cross of Christ high works every time it’s tried.