The challenges of today's church are many and it is difficult to define which are the most ominous. But from my years of working with the church, I would say that its greatest malady usually boils down to two chronic impediments, with which pastors and church leaders continually strive to overcome.
(1) Compromise with the standards of the world.
Unfortunately, the modern American church seems to have been more influenced
by society, rather than society being affected by the church. Recent Gallup
polls show a majority of Americans profess to be Christians, but the general
spiritual condition of our nation has never been worse. The fact is,
although many churches have concentrated on techniques of getting people in
the doors, they have not always been as successful in improving their
spiritual condition. The Apostle Paul said, "...beloved, let us cleanse
ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness
in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 7:1).
There is a widespread deficiency in the basic elements
of Christian character, ethics and morality. In contrast to past
generations, recent counseling statistics show that the ratio of moral
dysfunctions among professing Christians closely parallel that of secular
society. Domestic violence, drug abuse, alcoholism, sexual immorality and
promiscuity are commonly found within the churchgoing populace. In the
1980's, the Christian divorce rate reached the same deplorable level as that
of secular marriages — today more than 50% of all marriages, including those
of professing Christians, result in dissolution.
Today's pulpits are virtually silent on the issue of
"sin." The church has become more and more like the world. It has sought to
be popular and acceptable to society, and in doing so, it has compromised
its standards of morality and holiness. The scripture warns, "Do not love
the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of
the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15).
(2) Apathy toward its mission in the world. By and
large, the modern church world has become mostly occupied with what God can
do for them, rather than remembering their mission to reach the lost for
Christ. We live in a very self-centered society, and rarely do we see
churches and believers laying aside their selfish interests to serve the
Lord's interests. "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will
come: For men will be lovers of themselves... lovers of pleasure rather than
lovers of God" (2 Tim. 3:1,4).
The scriptures make it very clear that it is the duty
of every Christian to take on the task of helping to bring people to the
saving message of Christ (2 Cor. 5:17-18). But unfortunately, the statistics
show that only a tiny percentage of Christians ever attempt to share their
faith with others. This apathy is inexcusable and has contributed to the
woes of our society, which can only be remedied by the new birth of Christ
in the hearts of sinful men and women. "...if our gospel is veiled, it is
veiled to those who are perishing" (2 Cor. 4:3).