What is the American Church?
What is the church? But more specifically what is the American church? But before we get into that I think that it’s important to define a few things; having to do with religion, America, and the church. Religion is defined as a system of faith and worship (1). Religion has always been maybe it hasn’t always been defined as that, but people have always worshiped. It’s in our nature as people to follow to want to be lead. So, I think that it is only natural that as America came to be religion was a big part of that. “In the last 200 years, Christianity in America has been distorted — or, to use a more serious word, ravaged — Christianity in America has been ravaged by the dominant teaching that decisions for God are more basic in defining a Christian than delight in God.” John Piper (2) This country has so clearly entered into a state of comfort over conviction. From being to doing in our daily walk with God. The main religion that seems to have been Christianity but maybe not as we know it today. Protestant and Roman Catholic Christianity were the two big sects that we saw in the early American church. Both secs of Christianity are very work focused. Meaning that you must be producing something to be obtaining your faith. Which America is built on isn’t it? Producing more and more. Being the best and the greatest is what we have stood on and is now our countries slogan to make America great again. The church has evolved in so many ways, but the American church has shifted into a comfort gospel over the Truth of the gospel. Which I think has caused a culture of doing whatever you want and it’s okay because Jesus loves me. Or the other extreme where if I don’t follow all these rules and laws and stop sinning completely then I can never be a Christian.
The way in which the church impacts those around them I think depends on the area. It would be rude for me to not address that there are a lot of churches in America that are stepping outside of themselves and being the hands and feet not just in this world which is a cliché but to their neighbors. Following one of the most important commandments we were given to love our neighbors as ourselves. The Church is no longer being a positive influence in culture is not on the up and coming but slowly declining (3). With movements that are straining Christians to figure out what is truth and how to balance out these grey areas within Gods word that don’t give a clear yes or no within the movement of the LGBT community, racism, presidential elections, etc. The decline I think is for two reasons: the first going back to the typical Christians are hypocrite’s statements that we have heard for years. We sit in the pews and listen to how we are supposed to live and act as Christians but soon after leaving we are going and living the same as every single person around us. Now that is a typical simple answer to the first reasoning as to why the church is on the decline in culture today. It goes deeper though within these hot topics we have seen riots and protests and, in those riots, and protests are people who proclaim Jesus name while swinging a bat at a person who is a different color then them. Or supporting men who are sex offenders or who think that due to social status they can do and say as they please without repercussion, having the audacity to claim to be a son or daughter it’s not always men of God after these actions. I would and am hard pressed to call myself a Christian amidst these “fellow” Christians as well. I understand why people don’t like Christians and think we have no back bone due to the way we can be so opposite to what the word of God says. If I were to be born on a island with only the bible as my source of entertainment. All I do is survive and read this book and discover this Jesus and his disciples and all the other stories. Then I were to be rescued and come over here to America and go to a church I think I would go into shock with what I would see. Or maybe I would be more shocked to watch people who proclaim to be followers of Jesus interact in a culture so mime like to what non believers act like.
The other extreme that we see within the church in America is the fluffy show church. It’s the place where everybody is loved, and lights are flashing everywhere. Its appealing and draws us in like moths to a flame. All is good and well until life hits you. Then these people who have been going to this church where all that matters is love and comfort are confused on how a god who loves them could allow this trial to happen. There is no foundation of what to do in the trial and also that trials will come. It leaves a lot of people lost when hard times come because this “love” doesn’t stand or help to fix what is going on. They aren’t comforted quickly or they aren’t eased of the trial quick enough so they just bail. Now Gods word tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us and that is truth to stand on in any and all situations. But the producing churches they lose sight of the original intent of creating which is to be. Be with God is what we were created to do. Prosperity gospel is getting this country no where.
The church in the book of Acts I think is so important to look back on as we see the church in America. The church for majority of people is described first in love. It is a group of people who love each other. The second is it’s a group of people who have a message that they just need to get out. The third thing is that it’s a gathering of people who are focused on communion. Fellowship, and learning the word of god. Lastly it looks like a gathering of people who are being trained and equipped to work (4). It isn’t about producing but you look and see that the people in the book of Acts lived out all four of these things or at least they partook in these four descriptions of church.
What is so unique and different about the early church compared to the churches that we see in America today is they weren’t about producing but about being. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42–47 The church was the hub for the local community. As the disciples began to go out and preach and gather more and more followers these followers were able to become established in the community they lived in and were the hands and feet of Jesus to the people around them. Via the Holy Spirit they were able to listen and discern promptings they would get towards people and serve those people’s needs with a gospel centered heart. The death and resurrection of Christ was so recent and these guys had witnessed it so the passion, desire, and zeal was unstoppable.
Which can easily become an excuse for us as Christians today that we have lost our zeal due to the gospel being “old news”. What a huge red flag for us to acknowledge and get rid of in our hearts and minds as Christians today. The Gospel should never get old. It is the only thing we should be preaching, it is the only thing that matters, it is our only way of life. The church today has lost its way due to submitting to the culture around it. Seeking to please instead of pursue, to feel instead of fear God, to pass by instead of present the good news. Jesus wouldn’t just pass by he didn’t. He lived a life of purpose and impact that has had a ripple effect on this world since the beginning and will continue to have an effect till He comes back to complete His redemption plan. What is the church? It is the bride of Christ, His hands and feet, the sons and daughters of God, and lastly the ones screaming out in the darkness the way the truth and the life is coming.
5. ESV Bible