I’m also white and English-speaking. But Jesus wasn’t those either. And neither is the vast majority of his church.
Yet, if you pay attention to the church stats cited by most bloggers, speakers and authors, they tend to be very heavily slanted towards white, English-speaking Americans. Often exclusively so.
This slanted view gives us an inaccurate picture of who and what the 21st century church looks like.
It’s a big world out there. Jesus cares about all of it.
So should we.
In today’s post I’m going to take a hard, possibly uncomfortable look at two lies we end up believing when we pay almost exclusive attention to the white, English-speaking, American church.
Today’s post is a sequel to last week’s post, 14 Church Growth and Leadership Lies We Need to Stop Believing
Lie #15: The Church Is American
When we see the church through red-white-and-blue-tinted lenses, it causes us to make several inaccurate assumptions about the state of the church today.
Mostly, we lose sight of the church as the diverse, 2-billion-strong, worldwide wonder that it is. Instead, we’ve become used to seeing the church as a subsection of American life. It’s something X number of Americans do on weekends (and isn’t it a shame that fewer Americans do it on weekends than a generation ago?)
If you’re like me, you’ve read dozens, maybe hundreds of blog posts, books and magazine articles mourning the plight of the church. Christian leaders wonder if we have any relevance in our society any more. Every statistic seems to show the church being less important and more on the fringe of people’s lives than it used to be.
Is the church in America on the decline, both numerically and influentially? Yes. Is the church in decline internationally? Not by any measurable statistic. There are massive regions of Latin America, Africa and Asia for instance, that are experiencing unprecedented, legitimate revivals.
In America we’re wringing our hands, wondering “who has the answer to reverse the decline of the church?” Yet we keep staring inward for answers. We don’t have an accurate picture of today’s church because we’re paying too much attention to American stats alone. We can’t get there from here.
Is it possible – just possible – that the American church might have something to learn from people outside our borders? That some of our travels abroad shouldn’t just be as teaching missionaries, but as willing students? Or are we determined to remain as arrogant as we’ve been?
Our Actions Speak Very Loudly
Both of the lies we’re looking at today are based on statements no one thinks they believe. Much of what I’ve written here may be met with harrumphs of disagreement from many readers. That’s OK. Our actions speak louder than our harrumphs. Continue reading