'Is the Institutional Church dead?'
I know we've asked this question before, but it bears repeating! How much, or maybe we should say 'how good' of an effect is the modern evangelical church having on society as a whole? Sure, with some of the more 'seeker-friendly' corporate entities out there, one might observe droves of sheep herding into their over-priced auditoriums every Sunday! You might even witness some of this same herd 'getting saved' on any given Sunday; some of these may even hold ( as far as that goes ), and exhibit a genuine conversion ( for a while, anyway, but when is the last time you saw one of these institutions really making a difference in the culture around them? Sad to say, these congregations believe & teach that Jesus will be returning 'post-haste' ( very soon ) and so most seem to be more concerned with saving souls for the after-life than with really affecting the culture around them, and with preparing for the Kingdom than building in the Kingdom!
In modern society, we have witnessed murder being redefined ( abortion ), we have heard about marriage being made a laughing-stock ( same-sex unions ), and just the other week, I read about children being banned from church service because the pastor is a pedophile, and he 'just can't have that kind of temptation around'! We bear witness to Christianity itself being made a mockery of ( although Christians often ARE their own worst enemy ) because the only Christianity that makes it into the major news media is a false one at best, and an utter blasphemy at worst! Christianity in America, for the most part, is lost, with most cowering behind their state-sponsored pulpits ( 501(c)3 ) while the world goes to hell in a hand-basket, because 'Jesus is coming real soon'!
There is something almost admirable happening in evangelicalism today, with an outreach to save unbelievers from the eternal fires of hell ( at least they're consistent, right? ), but this form of outreach is as old as dirt! It's been going on, in one form or another, since the first or second century! The question might be asked; 'how's that working out for you?' For the innumerable amount of folks who have 'walked the aisle' since then, how many, do suppose, have actually had a positive impact on society at large with their message of 'get saved so you can go to 'Heaven' when you die'?
Peter quoted Proverbs 26:11 against the fools of his age when he said, in II Peter 2:22, 'A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire'. He was referring to those who held to the traditions of their fathers ( this is the way we've always done it' ), rather than accepting the Truth that was revealed in the Messiah. We see much of the same stagnation in the Institutional Church today, where congregations are trying to hold to, or return to the traditions of their fathers, and expecting different results! Not only is Christianity devouring itself, like the fabled Ouroboros, it is showing, like Peter noted, that the proverb of old is true, 'that a dog will return to his own vomit'!
What can be done, then, to stem this crimson tide, to remove this letter of shame & condemnation from the breast of the Church, She who is One with Her Husband? Can She yet again act the part of the leaves of the Tree, which are for the healing of the nations? Amen, She can & will, but first, She must realize several things! For one thing, She must repent of Her adulterous relations with the State ( 501(c)3 status and the State marriage license ), two, and even more importantly, She must repent of Her complacency & inactivity over the legal murder of the unborn! She must also acknowledge that Her Lord, Her Husband returned to judge His Covenant People when & how He said He would! We are at present living & prospering in His Kingdom as the Wife ( or at least, the Offspring ) of the Almighty, and the sooner the Church as a whole realizes & acknowledges that, the sooner She will again begin to have a good & lasting effect on the culture around Her!
May we realize & acknowledge this glorious fact with all our heart, mind & strength!
Charles Haddon Shank