The late Elton Trueblood’s statement in 1979 still rings true today:
Perhaps the greatest single weakness of the contemporary Christian Church is that millions of supposed members are not really involved at all and, what is worse, do not think it strange that they are not.
Elton Trueblood is of course speaking of involvement in the life, worship and ministry of the church. Yet, the involvement he speaks of is not one that proceeds out of duty or “have-to-do-this” but an involvement that proceeds from people in process of becoming spiritually mature. This kind of involvement is the natural result of persons growing in Christlikeness. Therefore, the greatest single weakness of the contemporary Christian Church is – in other words – that millions of members who say they believe in Jesus Christ don’t have as a personal priority a desire to be in relationship with that Jesus.
George Barna has found in his own research of the Christian Church that millions of church members lack the passion, perspective, priorities, and perseverance to develop spiritual lives. As a result they begin celebrating the wrong things. Halloween becomes a bigger celebration than Christmas, conquest over one’s personal enemies more important than forgiveness and reconciliation, material success trumps sacrificial lifestyles that would permit more resources to be poured into the work of the church.
The result, of course, is a church that is trying to reach the world without genuine disciples among its membership. I have to agree with Trueblood – this is the single greatest weakness of the contemporary Christian Church.
Through this blog it is my intention to cast a personal vision of God’s claim upon us as a people of God – and the intersection of personal faith and culture. Followers of Christ should serve the common good. This is the shared conviction of many great thinkers of the faith such as Lesslie Newbigin and Miroslav Volf. My hope is a growing dissatisfaction with “membership without relationship with Jesus.” As that dissatisfaction increases so will there be an increase in the power of the local church to impact the local community for God’s kingdom.