Spiritual Readiness: The Stream’s New Saturday Equipping Emphasis
These are the hardest days the Church in America has ever faced. Are we ready? Our country as a whole has faced worse crises: Wars on our own soil in our first century of existence, the Great Depression, the world wars, the riots of the 1960s. Never before, however, has the Church been singled out for attack as we are today. Never have we been the enemy at home. Now we are, in the eyes of many. So again: Are we ready for this? We’d better be.
Are we ready to stand strong before the insults? “Homophobic!” “Intolerant!” “Bigoted!” “Idiotic!” “A backward people that thinks a 2,000-year-old ‘holy book’ is good enough still for today.”
Are we ready to be sued? We ducked a close one this summer, when Jack Phillips won his right to stand up for conscience as a Christian wedding baker. It’s not over yet, though.
Are we ready to lose our jobs? A friend of mine was fired from two major consulting gigs because he’d taken a Christian stand for marriage and morality.
Three Crucial Questions
It really comes down to three questions of greatest importance:
First: Are we equipped to stand together? Can we stand together firm, confident, loving and filled with faith, when people all around are shouting, “Christianity is wrong wrong wrong”? (You say you haven’t seen this? Check out the Emmy-winning The Handmaid’s Tale. Just one example.)
Second: What about our youth? They’re the ones under the worst assault. Most of them are leaving the faith. Most of them! I say that based on information from multiple research studies, not just one. These aren’t unchurched youth, or even liberal-church youth. They’re students who’ve grown up under solid teaching in good, solid, believing churches. Statistics say there’s a chillingly good chance it’s your own kids.
Third: How can we take this opportunity to shine Christ’s light into darkness? For though these are bound to be American Christianity’s hardest days ever, they could also be our best and brightest.
We’re Not Ready for This
Are we ready for all that? From what I’ve observed, the answer is no. So far we’re doing church the same way we did it a couple decades ago, as if elite American culture hadn’t turned against us (it has).
And we’re acting as if the answers we gave back then are still good enough today. I used to share the gospel with a booklet that opened, “God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.” It’s still true as ever — but now I have to explain what it means by the word “God.” And I have to be prepared for questions like, “How can God be love when he hates gay people?” (Don’t worry, there’s an answer, and He doesn’t hate gay people anyway. The question is confused, but even so it still deserves a real answer.)
The Stream‘s New Saturday “Spiritual Readiness” Theme
We’ve got to gear up, both for the challenges and the opportunities of this strange new day. The Stream is convinced: We’ve got to get ready for this strange new day. So with this article The Stream is introducing a new weekly Saturday feature we’re titling “Spiritual Readiness.” It’s not new territory for The Stream to cover, it’s just a new, more intentional way to zero in on it.
We’ll run several articles each Saturday covering five essential points of readiness:
- Strong, thriving Christian community
- A vibrant life of prayer and fellowship with God
- A firm grasp of what we believe — the essentials of Christian doctrine and ethics
- Just as firm a grip on why we believe
- Effective outreach, both personal and cultural
You can expect us to spend more “Spiritual Readiness” time on the last three points than the first two. That’s not because they’re more important than the others. It’s because the Church in America is much less equipped in them. Or at least, less equipped to talk about them. We can always grow in prayer, devotion and community.
Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”