You Lost It

I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

We’re losing an entire generation. They’re just gone. It’s one of the worst things to happen to the Church.”

A generation ago, getting to your evangelical church meant walking through a parking lot brimming with “I Found It!” bumper stickers. You saw them everywhere in the ‘70s. It was a marketing strategy of Bill Bright, who came up with a form of passive evangelism designed to pique someone’s curiosity. If they asked, “I found new life in Christ” was seen as a perfect, non-threatening entrée to share one’s faith. And to share the story of life and life abundant that Jesus gave us.

“The Bible makes it clear that soul-winning is the business of every Christian,” wrote John R. Rice.[1] A generation ago, most evangelicals agreed with the fundamentalist Rice. Few evangelicals speak of “soul-winning” anymore. And evangelicals are no longer into bumper sticker evangelism. You’re more likely to see a few Trump/Pence stickers plastered on the car. In fact, most evangelicals today aren’t into evangelism at all. Statistics show Christians rarely share the “good news” of the Gospel. Hot Tub Church and/or Partisan Church have led to very few even managing to articulate it.

How did this sea change come about? Primarily because evangelicalism was wide, but very shallow. The late Michael Spencer was great at saying out loud things you couldn’t say in church. “The Christian life that was oriented to one thing: converting people”. He related how his youth pastor called him out for reading Packer’s Knowing God.Your purpose isn’t to know God. Your purpose is to win souls.” Like Corrie ten Boom, who wrote “The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life!”.  The Good News is all about how people can go to heaven when they die, and there was a “wretched urgency” to win their souls for Christ.

Evangelicalism is all about personal salvation. Ask Jesus into your heart – a phrase nowhere found in the Bible – and He’ll reward you with eternal security. Yet today, less than half of born-again Christians feel a strong responsibility to share the Gospel. This is the damage caused by Rapture-addled apocalypticism. The world is going to Hell; but like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I’m singing “I have the Golden Ticket”. I’m sitting in God’s waiting room to board Spaceship Jesus and get me out of this despicable place full of unsaveable people. It’s hard to pass on a form of faith that can take root and survive when we’ve already packed our escape bag and turned off the lights.

But before we depart, we need something to occupy our time. “Jesus’ entire discipleship program with his apostles was an academy designed to prepare them for service in the political arena,” noted Bryan Fischer.[2] Now there’s an idea: believe in a cause more than a faith. So, starting from Jerry Falwell’s I Love America rallies in the late ‘70s to Franklin Graham’s 50-state get-out-the-vote tours, political ideology has usurped the evangelical spiritual identity. That’s what’s holding evangelicalism together. “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his soul?” Evangelicalism, you’ve lost it.

[1] John R. Rice, Soul Winning, Murphreesboro TN, Sword of the Lord Publ., 1944, 3.

[2] Bryan Fischer, “Jesus Groomed His Apostles for Political Office”, Self-Educated American, April 5, 2011.

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