The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in America

I’m a modern American Christian thinking about the church today as a middle-aged man who was raised in a nominal Christian home and who’s now, by God’s grace, a believer, husband, dad, friend, and servant to all I can. These are some scattered thoughts on the state of the church in my country today from my experiences in it. I think about the church today as I write this for both its enduring Christ-centered multi-generational purposes, and also for its effects culturally just in my own lifetime as it carries out those purposes in my brief current cultural moment.

The church is God’s idea. God himself bought the church with his own blood. Acts 20:28. The church is not the church’s idea. It’s true in a sense that a person is the church, but the church is not just a person. The church is the body of believers, and also the places where that body gathers. Buildings, fields, airplanes, trains, and even jail cells have served as places where more than just get-togethers happen. The church is a place too. A barbeque can be fellowship, but a church is somewhere where ordinances (or sacraments) are carried out. Where people are tasked for work. Where ideas converge to reach out to others. Where other works “of the church” are seen and loved. The church then is also a group of people working in worship. Christians love this. 1 John 3:14 shows us that love “for the brethren” is actually a proof that God has saved us from our sinfulness. “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” Do you love other Christians for the sake of their faith? Then you might just be a Christian. (Side note: the church has hurt people. Churches are indeed full of hypocrites. But if you’re outside one yet claim to love God, please pray about giving the people of God another chance somehow or somewhere. There are so many great churches). The church is the primary place that God has chosen to sanctify his people for nearly two thousand years now, and for nearly five thousand if you count the Old Testament church. So, if it is all these things, you might ask yourself, “Then why in the world is such a thing waning in the culture?”

Why is Christianity as a cultural glue not “appealing” to many in my society today? The “nones” are standard today. You ask folks, “Do you have a Christian background?” and they’ll usually say “no.” It’s a long gray line of the, “I just don’t like organized religion” repeaters. It’s not all the time, but it’s certainly often. Why? Why do so many say, “The church is dying” with such confidence? Are they right? In numbers, yes, they’re correct. “Attendance” is down in America in most places for sure. I want to toss out at least a few ideas about why.

Sin separates from God. A criminal no more wants to hang out at a police station than an unrepentant man or woman will want to hang out in a solid church. Our culture has become, by the numbers, an overtly anti-Christian culture. Not of “spirituality” or something like that, but anti-the Cross. We are not a people who believe we’re fallen, but we are. We’re too rich to think we’re cursed, but we are. In fact, given the gross perversions I find wholeheartedly celebrated today like abortion, it seems to me that God has removed the brakes of the car as we accelerate toward the cliff. And he’s right to do it. Psalm 9:17: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”

The repentant want the fellowship, the accountability, the worship, the teaching, and the opportunities to serve that come from living out their pursuit of Christ among others that are doing the same. Believers want the church, whatever it looks like, and they’ll seek it out. Non-believers don’t. As the number of “nones” grows, the churches decrease.

The numbers are dwindling simply because many are false converts. So don’t fret, the church has actually never failed. The fakes are just being weeded out by God more and more. Many don’t come to Jesus for the right motives at all. One reason that once swelled ranks, however, was that it was socially advantageous to be at least outwardly religious. A generation or two of that and maybe a person grows up thinking that that’s actually all it ever was. Why does the church seem to be more and more irrelevant? The answer is simple- because it is not culturally advantageous to be in one. The social significance is lost on us. Our friends aren’t there. Our colleagues aren’t there. Our senior leaders aren’t there. Our God’s not even there. So, why should we be? I once had a cowardly lieutenant colonel in the Army tell me that he’d come to my chapel services, but he didn’t want his non-Christian junior leaders to feel outted by it. He was just looking for an excuse though. Sometimes good and bad motives mix. If a man sells Cross pins, he may want to be in a church where he can sell them. If there’s a larger church, he wants that one because he can sell more pins. It’s not that selling pins is necessarily evil or anything, but a client base can be both a good and a bad reason to want to sell pins in a church. Or cars, hats, insurance, or muffins. There was a day when Christianity (church culture) had a social gluing effect. The bad got mixed in with the good of it on a larger scale therefore. Churches were built at the centers of towns for a reason. It was a form of networking. That day, for many, has passed in its “profitability.” The hypocrites (even if they were simply unaware of why they should come to church) that came to church in generations past for the wrong reasons (i.e. not to worship God) have now gone out openly from what they consider a mostly irrelevant, if not downright hypocritical, gathering.

To the true believer, however, no matter the generation, the church has never been and will never be irrelevant. I pray to God for revival. For the entirety of the LGBTPPPFBQAI cult and its advocates to be returned to the fringes of a better culture. But I can do nothing but preach the same Gospel, as a member of the same church, by the grace of the same God who has always and will always save his people in, through, and by his works in the world and most especially the church.

Christians should go to good churches. “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25. If you need help finding one, I can help. Reach out some time. I’d love to help.
God bless!!!

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Joseph Pittano

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