Battlelines

Matthew 16:26 asks a question that every generation needs to answer. When it asks, “what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” it triggers in each of us a fight or flight response. It makes us decide who we will serve, how we will live, and what we will give to defend our choices. It’s a question for our times and one we must truly ponder over the next few months.

We’re here today, because of that passage. For in it, I found the purpose of this new series. I found direction and an answer to the problems I’m observed for far too long. I also found a common denominator with several friends who are also concerned and this new series of lessons found their birthright.

As we begin, I want to admit that I’m deeply concerned. I’m afraid the “soul” of the Church is sick. I don’t believe it has anything to do with our Savior or even the institution itself. I’m afraid it’s easy to see the problem, but hard to fix. I’m afraid we’ve focused too much on the things that didn’t matter and missed the big picture. We’ve worked to “gain the whole world” and lost our unique identity. That must stop. We must be better than that. The Church is too precious to spoil with worldly things.

I’m afraid it’s out fault. You see, we’re missing the point of so much. We’ve complicated the Kingdom with things and ideas that just aren’t true and we’re replacing the beauty of God’s creation for a watered-down version of what we truly could be. Now, a fight we’ve longed to avoid is upon us.

But I’m hopeful because all is not lost. 

As long as there are Christians in the world who have a desire to listen, obey, and fear God’s Word, the Church will be in good hands. As long as God’s people strive to follow His Will instead of their’s, we’ll figure out the hard stuff. As long as we “seek first the kingdom of God,” we’re not lost even if the world around us seems strange.

All of this began a few months ago when several friends joined me to address the growing problem of Christian Nationalism in the US Church. If you’d like to read our thoughts, simply follow this link. Collectively, we found the trend of interweaving policy and doctrine disturbing and frankly, downright embarrassing. I’ll admit it now, we were nervous about the reception our words would receive. However, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Many of our friends and brothers felt the same way but were unable or unwilling to say something even though they wanted to. They were concerned, as we were, that the work of the Church was becoming far too political.

After the overwhelming response, we hatched a follow-up to expand our scope. We wanted to reach out farther into the world of the Church and create something positive and hopeful. That’s where the idea of this series found its footing.

I’m excited to get the ball rolling today. For the next few weeks, I hope to ease your concerns. I hope to inspire you and give you a hearty dose of encouragement that’s been missing these last few months. While pointing out the problems is necessary in difficult times, so is recognizing and advocating a solution.

To that end, I asked about twenty preachers all across our brotherhood to write. Specifically, I asked them to write encouraging words about the work of the Church. I asked them to write about what they knew and what they knew worked. I asked them to shed light on the good of the Church and they responded enthusiastically.

I asked them to remind people why we love the Church. Why we cherish it, and why we long to see it’s influence restored.

As my friends talk about these ideas, ministries, and works of the Church they will give you reasons to be hopeful all over again. They will remind you why we love the Church and it’s wonderful collection of imperfect people. They will even let you in on a secret, we’re not struggling as much as some may want to believe.

The Church is a survivor. She has survived apostasy, indifference, worldly manipulation, and even the passing of time and she’s still as relevant as ever. While it’s a shame we have to remind ourselves, it’s not too surprising. After all, we’re people of the moment, and sometimes our moments are pretty depressing.

My final word of advice is simple. Strap-in my friends. We’re heading off to war. We’ve got a doozy in front of us. The fight for the soul of the Church is not some trivial pursuit. It will be the burden of our generation. We now face head-on our role in this society as the pandemic finally relents. Even though we were pushed aside, marginalized by the society we used to influence, we never quit and we never gave up. Now, we’ve got to step up to the plate and remind the world just how important the Church always was.

Sadly, some segments of our society forgot how much they need the Church, but we didn’t. Now, let’s use this moment and remember the good that comes from the things we are, the things we do, and the things we’ve been.

I’m grateful to the following who decided to write for this series. They have been wonderful to work with and their contributions are top-class. There will be a few more contributors join them, but until we finalize those articles, we’ll keep the announcement to ourselves. Here’s a list of who and what you have to look forward to.

We have Philip Jenkins on Youth Ministry, William Sharp on Campus Ministry, and William Bush on Video Ministry. Steven Hunter on theology and Dean Meadows on apologetics. Jason Haygood on fellowship and Rob Whitacre on evangelism. Nick Rice will write about domestic missions. We even have Jeff Jenkins on preaching, Adam Faughn on parenting, Matthew Morine on leadership, and Zack Martin on the Restoration’s role in our current state of affairs.

Needless to say, I’m excited. I hope you are too. I can’t wait to share what they wrote and se the goodwill it creates. Please, check back each week and follow us on social media. Unless something unforeseen happens, we’ll publish two articles each week and even stop occasionally to add a postscript here and there when certain topics have a cultural impact we simply must address further.