The Christian faith is facing a credibility crisis, too.
In our attempt to be contemporary and socially acceptable to reach more people, we have too often forgotten that our credibility matters most.
Our churches began in an attempt to restore the church to the principles and patterns of the original church. While we saw remarkable growth and outreach for over 200 years but things have dramatically changed.
Where we once dotted the landscape of this nation, we are now fewer and far between.
Where we were once focused on the similarities we shared with the early church, we are now more aware of the differences between then and now.
And it can be summarized in two words: influence and power. The early church did not have enough influence to keep Peter out of prison, but the believers had enough power to pray him out.
Today, few Christians seem to speak of the power of the Holy Spirit, yet they pride themselves on their influence. Sadly, they have exchanged influence in this world for the power of the Holy Spirit.
How did the church of America get to this point? I can remember when the church stepped into the 80’s determined to elect the President they felt could represent them best in Washington. His name was Ronald Reagan, and he brought a breath of fresh air to this country.
But our success in electing a President came with a price.
With conservative Christianity being hailed in front-page articles of daily newspapers as the reason for his victory, the church-at-large began to flex its muscles. We were no longer the silent majority and began to throw our weight around.
But such influence and pride took a toll on our spiritual place and purpose in this land. Having thrown our hat into the political circle, we now became fair game for all who would oppose us. We were a threat that needed to be brought to heel and they used the oldest trick in the book: they let us believe that we could behave like the world and not be sullied or stained.
Academia, media, and Hollywood took aim on us and our message and began a campaign not just to control us but to eliminate us as an influential force in politics and the nation.
TV evangelists and church scandals became their cannon fodder, and we helped it along with immorality and extravagance behind our church doors. Their accusations cut us to the quick. They accused us of no longer being relevant and their evidence was our declining numbers. With a wave of concerted attacks, they convinced a generation that there were better things they could do with their time.
No wonder our world is confused about us. We forgot our gospel message and what our role was as a light and salt in this world. When we stepped back, radical Islam, Eastern mysticism and a growing secularism gained momentum.
And the most damning question they could ask of us was, “What difference are you making in our world, anyway?”
We had made a fatal mistake and believed in our own message and influence rather than the power of the Holy Spirit and the message of Jesus Christ.