What’s He doing up there?

…the Rev. Kendall Harmon, theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, blames social mobility.

“Mobility means your ideas are more challenged and your family and childhood traditions have less influence, particularly if you are not strongly rooted in them. I see kids today who have no vocabulary of faith, and neither do many of their parents.”

Harmon recalls, “A couple came into my office once with a yellow pad of their teenage son’s questions. One of them was: ‘What is that guy doing hanging up there on the plus sign?’ “

This quote was taken from a disturbing article.

Before anyone is inclined to criticize the language as blasphemous, let’s consider how such a question could be asked. We too often come from our own little window on the world, and have little idea what is going on outside our purview.

I was with a group of local pastors last week, and one said he had read an article that claimed that evangelicalism as we know it will soon be gone. He gave the link to the article to which he referred, and I have followed it to the link given above.

“Mobility” is the sociologist’s catch-all factor for most of the ills of modern society. While it is certainly a factor contributing to the decline of traditional faith in our country, it is by no means the prime factor.

The middle paragraph from the quote above is most telling. Yes, our ideas get challenged as we become more mobile, more global; but that does not mean that our ideas or the basis of our ideas must change.

Christians have been slow to confront the reality of what is happening in the world around them. Just 30 years ago older adults were still saying that we should not send our children off to college, because “They will lose their faith.” They blamed the liberal influence of the agnostic or atheistic instructors. However, those instructors were not, and are not to blame.

I’ll say it again: liberal instructors and colleges are not at fault for the loss of faith of those who attend their institutions.

That is about like blaming the Chinese when someone loses a finger playing with a firecracker.

Consider and apply these verses of Scripture to the situation:

{Proverbs 24:10 ESV} – If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.
{Jeremiah 12:5 ESV} – “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?

Notice in the opening quote above that the parents came to see the pastor with their son’s question. Apparently, they were not able to answer the question themselves. That says they had not been taught, and it is therefore obvious that their teenage son has not been taught.

This is not an isolated instance. Jay Leno takes pleasure in going onto the street and asking simple Bible questions to which most do not know the answer: What is the first book of the Bible? Who is the main character in the New Testament?

So, what is the problem? Where do we fix the blame?

I am probably myopic or biased or both, but I always end up placing the blame for such things squarely in the pulpit.

The blame is not with the family, for the family was at one time coming to our churches.

The blame is not with the schools, for the schools were at one time influenced by the families that sent their children to them.

The blame is not with society, for society was at one time comprised of the individuals who attended our churches.

No. The blame is in the pulpit, because we tried to be relevant. We watered down the gospel in an attempt to attract those who were not coming. We watered down the requirements of discipleship in an attempt to keep those whom we were losing.

I too often attend services where a Bible text is given and something is talked about that may or may not illustrate something in the verse.

Seldom do I hear preaching that expounds the Bible as the Word of God that is “alive and powerful and sharper than a sword…” I have to go online or to the radio to find that kind of preaching.

 I will pick on a modern mega-church leader as a prime example. Joel Osteen preaches to tens of thousands every time he stands on the platform. I’ve listened to parts of his speeches at various times. I have yet to catch him quoting a Bible verse any sooner than 12 minutes into his talk. The verse quoted is always a feel-good text to support his feel-good message to a group of people who need their collective ego massaged.

And I’ve heard the same drivel from preachers who regularly preach to less than a hundred souls.

Someone will say, “That’s what we have Sunday School for–to teach the Bible.” Again, we are not paying attention to what is going on. Historically, Sunday School has been attended by 50% of those who make up the church rosters.

Our look-good, feel-good-about-ourselves method of only proclaiming how many were baptized, or how many were saved, or how many were added to the church membership without addressing how many we have lost has come back to haunt us.

The world sees the situation. When will we also wake up?

For an article from a confessing Christian who believes we won’t wake up, click here. The writer has some very interesting observations.

4 thoughts on “What’s He doing up there?

  1. No. The blame is in the pulpit, because we tried to be relevant. We watered down the gospel in an attempt to attract those who were not coming. We watered down the requirements of discipleship in an attempt to keep those whom we were losing.

    I admit I goto a large church, and it is considered a Mega church. It however does not fall in line with what you describe. The Truth of God and entire bible is first and for most taught. Never is a sermon done with out scripture, and the scripture leads the teaching. We average 10 baptisms or more week. God is blessing the church for doing it right.

    I do though hear what you are saying, in the Joel Osteen era of churches. Pulling scripture to fit the message has become very common in many churches. The culture of the world is “Feel Good” and that is what many churches try to do with there sermons.


  2. The size of the church does not matter. It is the content of what is taught.
    I like the way you said “Pulling sscripture to fit the message..” That is an excellent way to describe what has ben happening. we need the message to be taken from the Word and pointed at our heart.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s