The biggest struggle currently facing Christianity

May 3, 2010 — 5 Comments
Bainbridge Island Church

Bainbridge Island Church | Photo by Jonathan Blundell

I posed this question to a number of friends via e-mail last week:

What do you see as the biggest struggle or issue currently facing Christianity?

and asked them all to give a response under 100 words.

There’s a great variety of opinions and I think each one has made a very valid point.

  • our biggest issue is our response to Islam
    Andrew Jones (UK)
  • Some Christians seems to see Christianity as a religion for humanity and others seem to see it as a religion for society. I know Christians who tend to the needy, help the downtrodden and raise their children in the faith. But they don’t seem particularly worried about who is president or what is on television. I also know Christians who do those good things, but believe Christianity should also underpin public life and national law. They argue that if the morality of the Bible is good for individuals then by extension it is good for society.
    Eric Lidji (US)
  • Pride. It opens the door for everything else to come in. The same sin that got Satan kicked out of heaven and the one that causes so much separation in the church today. The church is sick and she doesn’t want to admit that. You have to admit you are ill before you can realize the need for healing. And the few who do recognize it only want to separate themselves from her and judge her. I have been guilty of the latter. It’s time to love the church back to health. The same way Christ loved us to salvation.
    Brad Vanderburg (US)
  • The “church” needs to quit talking quite so much about visions, plans, strategies, new teachings/ authors/ bands/ missions/ buildings/ teams/ heresies, and just start being the heart/ hands/ voice/ compassion of the Body of Christ, every Christ-follower, everywhere, everyday………………..so, what are the chances of that happening in our church-enterprised culture? anonymous
  • Honesty. I see it more and more each year a lack of respect of your fellow man. How can you can you get dishonest people to become Christians. Christianity is about doing the right thing. Some of the people going regularly to church might be a little surprised with they get to the pearly gates to find them locked. It is difficult for some people to go to church because they know what the people inside the church do when are outside of church.

    The world is a great place and life is so much fun but honesty in people is something very difficult to find.
    David Tuma (US)

  • In Western Society there is a crisis due to a breakdown of trust. Who do people trust? Politicians/ banks/ churches/ adults/ police/ scientists? I hasten to add that I am not particularly thinking about the recent problems facing the Roman Catholic church but these do form part of the problem. All have had a bad press.

    I believe that Christians in privileged societies need to return to basics and live Christ-like lives that build trust and point individuals to the Master we serve. Why should non-Christians trust Christ if we do not live loving, humble, obedient, self-sacrificing lives in the Master’s way?

    Rabboni (my Great One) let me be trustworthy for Your sake!
    Angus Mathie (UK)

  • Dallas Willard calls it ‘VIM” – as in ‘vim and vigor.’

    Vision – what are we going for here?

    Intention – do we want to do it, cooperating from grace, deep within?

    Means – do we know how to do it, once we know what ‘it’ is and have set our intention?

    I personally see the Christian life as a individual, collective, and cosmic pursuit wherein we’re caught up in the dance of the Triune God, embodying New Creation ecology. Which is a lovely vision and all, but do enough of us intend it? And are we up to a daily, thoroughgoing approach to this, even when it feels mundane?

    I think one of the reasons why Buddhism is increasingly popular these days – at least in principle (in practice Americans are as ADD about Buddhism as anything else) is because it is a religion of practice.
    Michael Morrell (US)

  • The biggest threat to today’s Christianity is Modern History and Modern Science. Every day, both of these disciplines come across more and more information. Unfortunately, a lot of the information gained either discredits Christianity or does nothing to support it. This is the information age. It is getting harder and harder to convince people to have blind faith in anything. Before the internet, you didn’t really have a choice in the information you were given on a daily basis. You had basically 2 to 3 places where you could accrue knowledge. School, Church, and Work. It was what our parents had, our grandparents had, and so forth. Not so today. The world has gotten to be a very small place. If religion is going to survive, then religion is going to have to get its story straight. The Vatican should allow their artifacts and libraries open for study among outsiders. The most sought after relics of ancient history are that of Christian Origin. If they ever existed, they are out there somewhere. They are possibly rotting away in some wealthy persons personal art collection. I would say about 95% of the history of Christianity (or any religion for that matter) is in the possession of private collectors completely hidden from Historians and their followers. Who knows what the real impact this may have. It could be Earth shattering or it could be nothing. All I know is that as each day goes by, the more religion will dwindle into the shadows. I want to believe these artifacts are out there and genuine, but I have a heavy part in my heart that tells me, not in my lifetime.

    Now I apologize if I hurt anyone’s feelings with this, I am only relaying what I have learned over my quest for the truth about Christ and Christianity. Point to the Bible all you want, but until you can define the exact location of the Garden of Eden, Noah’s Ark, The Ark of The Covenant, Christ’s Cup, The Cross He was nailed to, or better yet, ANYTHING with the word “Jesus” written during his lifetime that was not in the Bible, etc, etc, etc. Then it didn’t really happen. It is just a great story much like The Lord of the Rings.
    Godspeed all.
    Mike (US)

  • This question sparked another question in my mind that came from the Truth Project put out by Focus on the Family. The question was, “Do you believe that what you believe is really real?” I would have to say a great concern of mine concerning Christianity today (at least in the Western world) would be Christians who do not truly believe what they say they believe. If we did, I have no doubt that we’d have an incredible affect on those around us. Imagine if we truly believed that we were conversing with the God of creation when we prayed. Would we ever want to stop? Imagine if we truly believed that we were reading the very words of God when we read Scripture. Would we want to put it down? Imagine if we truly believed God was omnipresent. Would we do some of the things we do? Imagine if we truly loved our neighbor as our own selves. Unfortunately, many who claim to be followers of Christ are seen no differently than those who are not.
    Tim Carpenter (US)
  • One main verse that comes back to me pertaining to this topic is found in Romans 12:2 which states “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will ishis good, pleasing and perfect will.”

    I have felt that many fellow believers don’t really know the Bible and are not transformed by renewing their mind and testing their beliefs with Scripture. Sometimes I even have to ask myself, now do I believe this/do this because that is what my culture says, or because this is Biblical? I really think that if we were more unlike the the pattern of the world more radical more “Jesus Freaks” then people might really be able to tell Christians apart.

    I pray that I may be set apart for the Lord. I am not saying this to point the finger at Christians because I think its a process that we need to take up each day and ask God..”Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23,24.
    Rebecca Carpenter (US)

  • Not long ago I would of been quick at attacking this question.Chastising my own kind with answers like “we are living of the world but not in the world.” and “We have to stop living in the “Saftey Temple” and start turning over tables in the temple instead.” But in the last 5 or 6 months i’ve come to have a diffrent view point. And this is it. The problem with christianty is me. I am the biggest struggle. I am the current issue. I am the problem that needs fixing.In saying all of these things about christians that aren’t living right, how am I any diffrent? Am I being transformed? Am I suffering for the gospel? Or am I just a “smart sinner” that has mastered the art of displacing blame? The change begins within us. The planks in our eyes are uncomfortable but seem to be fashion statements in the christian world. We can change that. We can be trendsetters. If we all start to pull them out, if we all look at ourselves and see that transformation into the likeness of Christ is the only way, things will change because we will truly be changing. True transformation in our lives breeds transformation in others around us. That’s what I decided i’m doing. Trying to turn tables over with these boards in my eyes is way to hard and uneffective.
    Coy Christensen (US)
  • One of the problems are guys like Brian McClaren who for the sake of looking missional and seeking dialogue and conversation neglect to follow the actions of Jesus and the doctrine of Jesus. Dialogue and self discovery are good, if it leads to authentic faith that follows with self sacrifice and a commitment to tell the world of the cross, grace, and goodness of God. The problem is we, the church, love to talk but rarely take action.
    Ted Blair (US)
  • UPDATE:

  • William Booth is quoted as saying…

    In answer to your inquiry, I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be…
    Religion without the Holy Ghost,
    Christianity without Christ,
    Forgiveness without Repentance,
    Salvation without Regeneration,
    Politics without God,
    and Heaven without Hell.

    I figure that goes for me too. I’m seeing some viscous sectarianism between conservatives and liberals… where, to be honest, the points raised above apply… to both.

    I see law without love… and love without law. I see orthodoxy without orthopraxy … and I see orthopraxy without orthodoxy.

    The greatest struggle we face isn’t “out there” but “in here”… a battle for loving co-existence… because if we can’t love those who love the same Lord as we do… then who the heck can we love those who don’t even acknowledge Jesus as Lord.
    Thomas Mathie (UK)

So what do you think?

What do you see as the biggest struggle or issue currently facing Christianity?

Jonathan Blundell

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5 responses to The biggest struggle currently facing Christianity

  1. Christians, Ministers and Buildings.

    Christians because we are flawed humans.

    Ministers because 'professional Christians' can be hugely disempowering.

    Buildings because so much of the church's time, energy, focus and money is spent keeping open buildings which don't serve their purpose.

  2. Good stuff Stewart.

    Can't argue with those points at all.

  3. Jonathan, I thought this was a great idea you had and was disappointed that I didn't find the time to participate as I was getting ready to head to Washington D.C. for TransFORM last week.

    I enjoyed reading through the comments and thought that Andrew Jones and Brad Vanderburg mentioned two very important issues that the church is struggling with (or should be struggling with). Andrew said “our biggest issue is our response to Islam” and that reminded me how ungenerous and exclusive the church can be and how that is such a poor representation of the way of Jesus Christ. Brad talked about pride and that brought to mind how the church acts like it has a monopoly on truth and lacks humility about what they know and how that sort of attitude eliminates the space for the Holy Spirit to speak, guide and teach.

    When I read Ted Blair's comment I found myself shaking my head because if Ted really knew Brian he would not have implied that Brian was not a man of Christian action. Brian is a man who puts hands and feet to the message of Jesus Christ as few others do. One may not agree with all of his theology but if you look at the life he leads you will see a Christ-like man. He is kind, generous, patient, compassionate, even-tempered, forgiving, humble, loving and he spends enormous amounts of his time, energy and resources caring for others. One thing I love about Brian is that he doesn't just help others but he also seeks to lift up others affording them dignity and respect which is something that I think the church in general is poor at doing. So to Ted I have to say … you are wrong, Brian does not do what he does in order to “look” any particular way – he is a sincere and committed follower of Jesus Christ who is doing his best to live authentically in the way of Christ.

    Lastly, I would add that I believe full time paid ministry positions are a problem for the church. I believe they create a conflict of interest because when a man or woman depends on the members of a church to support them and their family that man or woman has to be very sensitive and concerned with what the congregation thinks/wants – even more than what God thinks/wants. I do believe that we should support people in ministry but I do not believe that we should employ them if that makes sense.

  4. Liz – great input and insight. Glad you had a great time at TransFORM.

    To be totally fair and upfront, I don't think Ted just pulled Brian out of a hat to pick on, I briefly mentioned Brian in the e-mail I sent out – probably should have included that in this post as well…


    Brian McLaren recently raised 10 questions that the church must discuss/converse/talk about in his recent book. But I realize they may not be the same questions/issues you're currently facing – so I'd like to hear what you think.

    So in 100 words or less…

    What do you see as the biggest struggle or issue currently facing Christianity today?

    Feel free to give a problem and solution — or just the biggest struggle/problem you've observed.

    There's no right or wrong answer here. I've tried to include a wide range of people so hopefully we'll all get to learn something from one another in the process.

    I know Ted was disappointed with Brian's latest book and the theology contained within it as well. Personally, like you I think Brian's doing a lot of good around the world as he works to live out his faith. He doesn't talk about it much though — he has an amazing posture of humility. While I knew he traveled a lot, I was truly impressed with what he shared at TransFORM. It's a side most people probably don't know about.

    Thanks again for your response and input! We need to get together again soon.

  5. Jonathan – Thanks for the response. I would love to get together again. Adele asked me if I had seen you guys again and I felt bad saying that I hadn't.

    I too was excited that Brian shared the way he did at Transform. I have a friend who is a pastor who went to Africa on a mission trip that Brian was on a few years ago and although he doesn't agree with a lot of Brian's theology those days with Brian convinced him that Brian is a sincere follower of Jesus Christ. I care a lot more about how people are living than what people know these days because I am convinced we all are probably wrong about most of what we think we know anyway:>) Don't get me wrong – I still think trying to know is a worthy pursuit and am always happy to share what I believe (although it may be different today than it was last week:>).

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