This post is the first of several (number still undefined) posts that will help define what a God-centered culture looks like and some of the key prayers and principles required to create a God-centered culture.
Purpose: To build a culture that is God glorifying, Christ centered, gospel (grace) saturated and redeeming to those that are a part of it; a culture that is marked by people in authentic pursuit of Jesus to know Him more deeply and serve Him more fully; people that are intentional about having their heart’s affections stirred up for the Lord. The fabric of this culture has some common threads that are woven in to it and help to create a prism through which we see life and engage others as we chase after Christ.
Introduction: The majority of the modern evangelical experience in the western world today is failing in its discipleship efforts and is having little influence on the world that it professes to reach and influence. In the west, we regularly gather large crowds in church buildings on Sundays, but there is little evidence in the lives of the attenders that they are different than their non-professing friends and neighbors. Why is this? There seem to be some common themes in American evangelicalism that are not biblical, orthodox or have been part of the church culture historically. The modern church tends to emphasize morality over the gospel, external accomplishments & numerical growth that are easily measured over depth, practicality over doctrine, and a formula based approach to faith rather than pursuing an abiding relationship with the Creator.
On any given Sunday in the western church you will hear messages that are grounded in what we need to do and are devoid of the deep doctrines of our faith. The messaging is almost always topical, very pragmatic, and results/application oriented. Titles like “5 ways to reduce debt,” “3 ways to serve your wife,” “4 ways to be sexually pure,” or “how to overcome pornography” are the common topics that are covered. These churches tend to be highly entrepreneurial, very organized, gather large crowds, have very impressive services and teach people bible based “formulas” for making life work (i.e. marriages, child rearing, finances, etc). The problem with this approach is that it produces a man-centered culture that is theologically weak, values morality over grace, likes to measure spirituality by accomplishments, have no real understanding of who God is, are ill equipped to handle life’s difficulties when things don’t go as planned according to the formulas and provides little comfort to those who don’t seem the “measure up.” These churches tend to produce people who have an appearance of godliness, but deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5). These tend to produce morally clean people who are never spiritually transformed by the gospel because the gospel is not lived out on an ongoing basis.
Is everything bad in American Evangelicalism? Absolutely not! We have a rich heritage of God doing miraculous things in His church in America. But, it is time to ask some difficult questions with honesty and biblical sobriety – and perhaps we will experience a spiritual revolution! Perhaps, God will be gracious to us and will reconstruct God-centered cultures that are glorifying to him, biblically accurate, doctrinally strong and redeeming to those who experience them. If someone has been in the church very long they have undoubtedly embraced much of this teaching as the core of their faith and significant deconstruction is required before a biblical, God-centered theological system can be reconstructed. The goal of these posts is to provide some of the key prayers and principles required to deconstruct our false religious paradigms and reconstruct a vibrant God-glorifying, gospel saturated culture.