One of our core values at Grace Hills is, “We stay fast, fluid, and flexible. There are no sacred cows. We embrace the pain of change for the win of seeing more people meeting Jesus.” I wrote that one knowing that of all of our other core values, it would probably be the hardest to honor over the long haul. It addresses the crossroads where theology meets psychology, where truth, mission, and fear intermingle. Change is hard.
The American evangelical church is in a rather desperate condition. You’ve heard that America is a “Christian” nation and that Christianity is dominant. Perhaps it’s the popular religion, but far fewer people are attending church than we realize. And we’re only planting one fourth of the number of new churches needed to keep pace with America’s current population growth and rate of decline in existing churches.
So churches absolutely must change and adapt if they will remain relevant to the culture. I realize many Christian leaders don’t like that terminology, so let me clarify that God’s Word, the gospel, Jesus, and the church as Jesus intended it to be have always been, are now, and always will be relevant without our help. But we often hold onto extra-biblical traditions and ideas that severely limit our ability to communicate with a young generation, an influx of immigrants, and a culture being shaped by its technology and entertainment more than its religious and historical roots. In other words, if Satan’s goal is to blind the minds of those who don’t know Christ to the gospel, we often help by handing out blinders such as inauthenticity, racism, ethno-centrism, traditionalism, and political power struggles driven by fear and selfishness.