This blog entry, by guest blogger Jean-Luc Krieg, continues from yesterday’s entry.
In a generalized way, it seems to me that much of Christianity in America has been domesticated and church has become a fine-tuned machine with well-polished religious products marketing to well-meaning religious consumers. This is foremost true for many church’s weekend worship services. Generally they are good: the sermons are good; the worship music is good; the stage presence is good; the technology used is good; the sanctuaries are well-designed and welcoming. And there’s nothing wrong with this, per se.
The unfortunate thing is that many Americans who go to church, even while they cognitively attest to believing in God’s power and doctrinally affirm his sovereignty and might, rarely experience his powerful presence in the here and now, and their deep thirst for a place of belonging often goes unquenched. God has been put in a cage and handed down to people as a religious pill – a pill that unfortunately is growing weaker by the hour and no longer knows how to address the many personal, emotional and societal ills America is facing.
In fact, it seems to me that many American Christians and church leaders, instead of looking to the reconciling and transformative power of God, have politicized God and equated him with the Republican or Democratic agenda. If only we get the right candidate into power who is on the right side of our litmus test issues, America will be saved from destruction, the logic goes. From the outside, it appears as if many American Christians are looking to politics for salvation from societal ills and are deemphasizing the Church’s and each disciples’ call to bring the Shalom of God into all spheres of society. Thereby they are contributing to the deepening polarization in the USA, instead of being a force for positive change. James Davison Hunter in his recent book To Change the World has an interesting take on this difficult challenge the American Church is facing. While I may not agree with all of his findings, I think he contributes good food for thought to this interesting conversation.
Now – having mentioned all of the above, I am deeply aware that I have engaged in terrible generalizations. American Christianity is diverse and one can find a lot of vibrancy, maturity and sacrificial faith in many corners of this vast and beautiful country. But as generalizations go, they wouldn’t exist if there were no truth to them.
So should the American church simply look to the 2/3 world for guidance to recapture the essence of what it means to be church? If only it were so simple.
Jean-Luc’s blog entry will continue tomorrow with reflections on why the rapid growth of the church in the 2/3 world hasn’t led to transformation of society