Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 - Be Informed

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As we conclude 2013, we can look back at a number of events that have impacted us both individually and collectively this past year.

But let's look ahead.

George Barna has distinguished himself as the premier researcher on values and beliefs in the American culture.

What he has found in regard to the Christian church and the culture is very troubling. But it should also sound the alarm and serve as a call to action by those who are informed.

The fact is that churches are generally not speaking to the issues that are destroying our culture, and many pastors don't intend to do so in 2014---for a variety of reasons.

Barna has found that while 99% of conservative, biblical pastors are opposed to so-called same-sex "marriage," only 31% expect to mention the issue in their church in 2014.

97% believe the Scriptures on the subject of homosexual behavior are very clear, but most do not expect to mention it in the church during 2014, even though it will be an ongoing public issue in the culture.

Barna also found:

  • Only 39% of theologically conservative pastors follow national news.
  • Only 23% follow state issues.
  • 50% of those pastors who "have" spoken to the issues or may speak to them in the coming year say they are "fearful" of IRS action against them.

In light of the above, consider this:

  • Only 23% of churches plan to distribute voter guides to their congregation this in 2014.
  • Only 11% will approve any kind of voter registration in conjunction with the church this year.
  • Only 6% will preach even one sermon on personal responsibility regarding voting on public policy.

Having been a pastor, I understand the myriad challenges a pastor faces in the local church. They range from people confronting you because you speak to the issues in the culture and being confronted by those who feel you should not do so.

There are also those pastors who personally believe speaking to the cultural issues should not be a part of any sermon. I respect that.

However, I clearly disagree. As a pastor, I spoke to the issues from the pulpit as needed depending on what was going on in the culture.

My own experience was that speaking to the issues and reaching non-Christians is not mutually exclusive. We did both. God honored that approach in our pastoral ministry. Over the years many hundreds accepted Christ in our services, the church grew exponentially from a couple hundred to a couple thousand.

However, I understand and am empathetic to the fact that every pastor faces different circumstances and challenges.

Also consider this:
  • Over 25 million evangelicals who are eligible to vote did not vote in the 2012 national election.
  • Of the evangelicals who did vote, over 6 million of them voted for Barack Obama, who by most every estimation is the most anti-marriage, anti-family and pro-abortion president in history.

Something is very wrong with this picture.

Christians are generally not well informed on the most important issues in our culture, nor do millions of us sense the urgency of becoming informed and casting an informed vote.

Too many Christians may not sense the responsibility and stewardship attached to civic duty.

This is not new among God's people.

The Prophet Hosea spoke to this issue several thousands of years ago. He defined the problem this way:

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of God, I also will forget your children" (6:4).

In addition to the children not knowing God or missing His will for their lives, there are a number of other consequences that Hosea predicts will follow:

  • The people's glory will be turned to shame.
  • Their hearts will become set on iniquity.
  • They will eat but not have enough.
  • They will commit harlotry, but not increase.
  • Their children will be led away by conflicting philosophies.

Isaiah described the same condition this way:

"Therefore my people have gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst" (5:13).

What can I do? I'm only one person.

Political change cannot and will not change the course of this nation. Political and cultural restoration will follow spiritual restoration.

  • Pray for our nation. Allow God to speak to your heart.
  • Associate with like minded people of faith. Discover opportunities in your community to motivate and inform people. Support those voices that "are" speaking to the issues in our culture.
  • Do not take a position against your pastor if he does not speak to the cultural issues. That is not biblical. Pray for him. Or find another church.
  • If your pastor does speak to the issues in our culture, encourage him.
  • Follow the instruction of Jesus and become salt and light in your sphere of influence.

I'll be talking more about the idea of our becoming salt and light on the radio today. Please join me live at 9 AM PT from any where in the world. Here's how.

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful. Be Pro-Active. Be Blessed.