As I survey the landscape of the modern church and Christianity at large, I find myself asking, “What have we lost?” I grew up in the church and in a Christian family with Christian parents who continue to love the Lord even in their later years today. My father is a pastor, and church attendance was never an option for me growing up.
These days, I eagerly look forward to driving to my local church each week. Church has changed a lot from when I was a young boy, and I have eagerly embraced many of those changes. But as I survey where the church is today, it is obvious we have lost a great deal along the way.
Through the years, I have seen much of what there is to see in a church experience, from a front-row seat behind the scenes to a front-row seat in the sanctuary. I’ve attended everything from church plants to mega-churches, with attendance ranging from less than twenty to a few thousand. Though young, having a brother eight years my senior allowed me to experience the original Jesus Music movement of the early 1970s, and I lived through the creation of the modern Contemporary Christian Music industry that dominates the so-called “worship” portions of the great majority of all modern church services.
When I was younger, we used hymnals to sing what seemed like archaic songs from a time I couldn’t relate to set to a beat no one could dance to. As someone who gravitates toward music both heavy and loud, I enthusiastically embraced the introduction of more modern music into the church space. Fast-forward to today as I ask “What have we lost?” The old hymns to me are now precious and awaken deep reverence and worship in my soul. My tastes in music have not mellowed over the years, but I now see the wisdom and beauty of having distinctly reverent music as part of the church service. By allowing the culture’s preference for music to infiltrate the church, we’ve lost something sacred and dear.
Along with the move to contemporary music, I’ve also watched preachers go from careful expositors of God’s Word to people telling clever jokes and presenting motivational speeches from the pulpit. It used to be the only preacher everyone had heard of was Billy Graham. Today, celebrity pastors are a dime a dozen (which is a bit more than the value of the messages they spew). Instead of preaching slowly through a passage of scripture to understand what God is saying, today’s preachers cherry-pick any number of verses out of context to make the point of what they want to say. We’ve lost truth and integrity in the pulpits of our land.
So, what have we lost in the church today? We’ve lost sacredness, adoration, truth, and integrity. It breaks my heart to even write those words. In the search for relevance and social accommodation, we’ve lost the point. We’ve lost the God who is the reason we gather together. Is it any wonder our world is in the condition it is today? We have surrendered so much and so quickly. Is this the Church we want to present to Christ upon His return? We’ve got to get back to basics and reclaim what we have lost. It’s time to kick the culture out of our churches and restore Jesus to His rightful Headship in our churches and in our lives (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 4:15-16). It may be too late, but I’d rather die trying to restore what we have lost than live in the compromised state of Christianity today.