8/30/2005

Black Tuesday

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In Early 1929 a large number of “experts” and analysts, who’s pleas to change the way the American business system functioned, went unheeded and even scoffed. They were called “doomsayers,” “pessimists,” even “opportunists.” They could sense, like animals before a storm, that impending tragedy was lurking around the corner. More importantly they not only sensed it they could see the signs that it was coming. I’m sure that many of them felt like Chicken Little, crying, “The sky is falling” and meeting responses of disbelief and disregard. For many of these “experts” their reputation and livelihood became more important to them than the eminent failure they saw in the economic structure of the United States. By as early as April of 1929 many of the “experts” of economics had not only warned the politicians, bankers, brokers and the public, but then just as quickly went against their better judgment and changed their message in fear for their own longevity in the economic and academic worlds. Black Tuesday took the country by “surprise.” How could something so destructive come so suddenly and without warning?

Fast forward to the year 2005. There are a group of “doomsayers,” “pessimists,” and “opportunists,” in the American church that are pleading with church leaders to change the way that American Christianity is structured, and implemented but they like their counterparts 80 years earlier, are largely being scoffed, mocked, and even charged as being heretical. It helps when big names and researchers like George Barna seem to confirm what grassroots leaders have been saying for some time, but for the most part it is business as usual in the American church. In the years that preceded the great stock market crash of 1929 business was booming. Markets were at all time highs. Profits had never been higher. Remember they were called the “Roaring 20’s” because of the “boom” in most aspects of American life. Look at what internet encyclopedia says about “The Roaring Twenties:”

The Roaring Twenties refers to the North American historical period of the 1920s, which has been described as "one of the most colorful decades in American history." The decade encapsulates a fascinating story, beginning with the return of young soldiers from the fronts of the First World War and emergence of a new and confident face of the modern womanhood, and ending with the sad note of the Black Tuesday, harbinger of the Great Depression. The years of the Roaring Twenties are marked by several inventions and discoveries of far reaching consequences; emergence of unprecedented industrial boom and accelerated consumer demand and aspirations, coupled with significant changes in the lifestyle; and a series of events, national as well as the international, which shaped a large part of the history of the 20th century.

Call me a “doomsayer” but this is exactly where I believe the American Christian Church is headed.
“But look at the acceptance we are getting in society!”
“Look at the way the Christian music market is growing!”
“For the first time in years we have a real Christian in the White House!”
I can hear all of the objections now. I have even heard some say that by my thinking that I am headed down a slippery slope of heresy, and “liberalism.” I think my feelings about the current state of the church can be summed up by a comment by a good friend of mine that recently quit his position as a pastor at a large church. He said, “The more churches I visit the more fearful I am for the future of the church [in America].”
Why? Because even though we are enjoying a time of prosperity, and acceptance by society, we are on the verge of a spiritual collapse. Even though we have Rick Warren selling more books than J.K. Rowling, the church is becoming irrelevant. Even though Joel Osteen just bought the Compaq Center, the majority of churches in America are in decline and selling off their buildings to developers or Buddhists to be transformed into temples. We are, in many ways, like the naked king, thinking we are robed in the “bridal gown” that we will don prior to the return of the Lord. We are exposed, naked, and on the verge of humiliation but we are the only ones that fail to see it. Documentation of this would take volumes and pages too numerous to write here.

Let me just say this: Let the leaders of the church that are living at the grassroots NEVER stop calling to the leaders in their ivory towers. Let us be vigilant to the vision God has birthed within our breasts. Let us keep loving Christ passionately, and seeking to heal the infirmities of the Bride of Christ. Let us guard our hearts against cynicism, and feelings of rejection. We must remember that even though the stock market crashed it did not die. When Jesus said, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” he was talking about the same church we are.
It is the guinea pig that often gets killed; and the Pioneer who suffers the greatest. Remember that we are the pioneers of the American Church. We are forging into uncharted waters, and forests that hold all manner of danger. We must have a right heart before God if we are to brave the “dangers” and still receive the blessing of God.

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