When Americans were asked in a Barna poll if they believed Jesus would support the death penalty, only 8 percent of Protestants and 2 percent of Catholics said yes. Yet, despite these low numbers, 32–55 percent of Christians (range dependent upon generation) still support the ultimate punishment. It seems strange that so many Christians can live with the cognitive dissonance of ardently supporting something they believe Jesus would frown upon.
But for the most part, our churches are still poised for ministry in the old cultural mindset. They expect to be heard and respected. They expect to have the power. They expect culture to fall in line under the leadership of the church, but culture is just not listening.
Until American churches understand how to live and work in our specific version of an increasingly post-Christian culture, they will struggle with effectiveness for the gospel.
Why do evangelicals wind up ahead of other Christian sects in this model? They’re better at holding on to the people born into their tradition (65 percent retention compared to 59 percent for Catholics and 45 percent for Mainline Protestants), and they’re a stronger attractor for people leaving other faiths. According to Pew’s data on conversion rates, 10 percent of people raised Catholic wind up as evangelicals. Just 2 percent of people born as evangelicals wind up Catholic. The flow between mainline and evangelical Protestants is also tilted in evangelicals’ favor. Twelve percent of those raised evangelical wind up in mainline congregations, but 19 percent of mainline Protestants wind up becoming evangelical.
Did you catch that last bit? You may not know this, but Christians established the first hospitals ever known to man. Those of you who work at a hospital can thank the early Christians in part for your job. Did you also notice that the root of “hospital” is also the root of “hospitality,” as well as “hospice.” These all derived from the Latin hospes and was translated as “host,” “guest,” and/or “stranger.” The first hospital to receive substantial attention in Christian literature notes the bishop Basil of Caesarea as its founder in AD 370.
Part of Jesus’ Good News to us is that His burden is easy and light. I have seldom met people who really live this out, but when I do, there is one thing they all have in common: They don’t take themselves too seriously. Actually, they’re kind of weird. They laugh a lot. It doesn’t take a lot to impress them, and they are completely in awe of the little stuff. They aren’t waiting for their big break in ministry or culture. They are not comparing themselves to others. They take God seriously, and because of that, they live freely.
It is so easy and so natural to go online to look for answers, that we may just pass over the most obvious means of help. It is here, in the local church, that we have people who are deeply invested in us and specifically called and gifted to assist us. Church first, Google later.
For the skeptics, it’s important to clarify: Learning from business thinking does not mean churches adopt everything done in the business world. (For example, I don’t agree with the “pastor as CEO” model.) Still, there remain certain universal principles that apply, namely because in both business and the church we are dealing with people.
Christian LeBlanc, 22, a University of British Columbia student who shared the photo on Instagram this week, said the elephant on Thailand’s Koh Phangan island snatched his GoPro camera while it was in time lapse mode, so it continued to shoot photos from its vantage point at the end of the elephant’s trunk.