You can learn a lot about a person by their conversation. Listen long enough and you will discover what they value most.
The same could be said about churches. In the recent past, such issues as music style, facility design and sermon length have dominated discussions and debate. While all of those topics have their place, if we treat them as the most important issues in the church, we reveal that our values are immature.
In my opinion, the day is fast approaching when the church will no longer have the luxury of treating lesser things as though they were of greater importance. The decreasing elements of Christian influence in pop culture will force churches to re-evaluate their values. Here are four value shifts that I believe will soon take place in American evangelical churches. In many congregations, the conversations are already transitioning.
- From Style to Substance. As church members are forced to contemplate whether they should attend their niece’s same-sex marriage, or provide insurance coverage for life-terminating drugs, they will care less about whether the pastor is “easy on the ears” and more about whether he is able to apply faithful Bible proclamation to relevant cultural issues.
- From Remodels to Revivals. Believers in the United States are beginning to face the reality that following Christ will require discomfort, sacrifice, and deep faith. No longer will churches be concerned with attracting people with impressive buildings, but instead will be concerned with the spiritual reawakening of those within the congregation.
- From Convenience to Commitment. Churches will no longer exist to provide a place to worship when convenient. Instead, congregations will, by necessity, become commitment communities that rely upon one another for support and encouragement. Corporate worship will be seen as a privilege worthy of sacrifice rather than a convenience to take for granted.
- From Therapy to Truth. Sermons, classes, counseling, and group studies will no longer exist to make believers simply “feel better.” Instead, believers will insist upon truth to ground their lives upon and guide difficult decisions.
While it may seem that the current cultural shift is to be feared, the consequences for the American church may be extremely sanctifying. Expect the wheat to be separated from the chaff, the dead limbs to be pruned, and the church to blossom and flourish!
Ready to change the conversation in your church? It’s time!