This morning I woke up to do some writing for different blogs and purposes but couldn’t shake a few thoughts. When something is lingering like this, I tend to suppose it needs dealt with, and so, in my case, I need to write it down if I’m to move forward. I was and am feeling burdened and frustrated about what I feel are blind eyes and silent mouths by church leaders to a few very practical and key topics in our society.
I have no specific church leaders in mind with these thoughts, and that’s actually why they’re a bigger problem to me. We all have our blind spots or things we just don’t like to deal with, but I believe this is more of a nation-wide thing. Perhaps global, but for sure nation-wide in the United States.
I’m also not saying that no groups are talking or teaching about these things, because I know that they are. There are many good books, sermons, and resources out there on all these issues. I know it because I’ve learned from many of them.
I’m simply saying that, as a whole, we still are largely avoidant and silent on these topics, and sadly, I think it’s greatly hindering Christians’ wisdom, well-being, and influence on our society.
I plan to return to this in the months and years ahead. For now, here’s a quick overview of a few topics on my mind.
Important topics being mostly ignored
Gender and sexuality
I know this is painting with a broad brush here, but gender differences, sexuality, and sex would all be rolled into this to me. If we fail to understand or communicate this topic correctly and often, then, especially in our society, we fail our people. This is a hot-button issue right now across the United States, and thus, across the world. We’re only here, in this mass confusion, because we’ve failed to pick up on things and address them lovingly and Biblically many years ago. Now we have a society wide determination to do away with gender. We have sex as recreational activity with anything and anyone that sits still long enough, and we have rampant pornography addictions. Speaking to this would be speaking to identity issues at the core of us, and it would be equipping our people to speak to what our society says as well as have healthier relationships themselves.
Dating, courtship, marriage
This is one I actually think we think we deal with, but we do an extremely poor job of it in truth. Try really hard to think of the last time someone truly spoke about the whys, whats, hows, and whens of pursuing a mate for life in a Godly and constructive way. Yep, just passing remarks at most, and still usually to people who are already married. It’s remarkable how the most important and life-altering thing we’ll do in life after following Christ is largely unaddressed and rarely taught about. Practicing for divorce, or what is known as “dating”, is totally normal in our churches, and we don’t think twice about it. We don’t talk about what these intimate relationships are all about, and thus how to do it well in a way that honors God and sets you up for success. Have we accepted societal norms as leaders? Are we just afraid to address this because we know our people have accepted societal norms? It’s all simply, “Hope you figure it out along the way! Oh, and if you do ever choose someone to marry, however and why ever that happens, be sure to budget a lot of money for counseling for the rest of your life. You’ll need it.” That’s incredible! That’s sad! I think much of the reason we cannot address this issue is tied to the previous lack of understanding concerning gender. I also think it’s simply laziness on our part. It’s a hard one to discern and it calls for very unpopular and radical stances that we’re happy to simply pass off as, “The parents should deal with it”, and ignore the fact that we are to teach the parents how to deal with it.
Food, diet and health
This one possibly disturbs me most how blatantly blind to it we are, and yet, it’s understandable since most church leaders are actively failing here themselves. A quick glance around in any community will show you obesity at worst and extreme lack of fitness at best, as well as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more, with massive consumption of unnatural and convenient “foods” while we drive to doctors of all kinds to spend huge amounts of money on physical and mental health fixes. Do we not simply ask, “Why!?” Are we actually so incapable as to make the Biblical and spiritual connections and say, “Could what we put in us be what we’re getting out of us? Might we be able to do things different, treat our bodies better, and have a more spiritually and emotionally healthy community as well?” I’m positive this would affect people’s energy, and thus serving hearts, as well as confidence and happiness and thus evangelism. We’d be battling addictions, depression, and a whole number of psychological and spiritual things beyond the physical by simply addressing this one topic with care, concern, and Godly wisdom and science!
Social media and connected life
We live in a time in which people have never been more easily connected and yet never more lonely and discouraged about their connections. Why? The blur between online and offline life has so strongly merged the two that they’re nearly the same. What used to be called “second nature” is now simply “nature” to younger generations. There is no other “natural” to them. Projecting a staged life is part of living life. Period. Yet the reality that people in our church, as well as their friends and family, live hours upon hours of each week and day staring into an internet projection of their life and comparing themselves to other’s staged lives is something we completely ignore. It’s never addressed. This problem doesn’t fix itself because of addressing other issues. Social media and virtual connection isn’t a phase. It’s here. It’s staying. It is as reality as the chair I’m sitting in, yet infinitely more powerful because it’s preaching and prophesying at our people every single minute of every day.
Finances, budgeting, and debt
This one gets addressed to some limited measure on occasion, but it’s not surprising why. When churches need more money to survive, we begrudgingly do half a message on giving with joy and stewarding finances well so you can give with joy. Meanwhile, our people sit under mountains of debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and thinking, “That must be a message for someone else, because I couldn’t give more no matter how much I wanted to.” When we fail to speak and teach boldly and transparently about wise spending and budgeting, we allow our communities to continue in unacceptable bondage to a master other than God. We enable an unaccountable love of money that cannot and will not change, no matter how much money they eventually have. If we speak to this issue though, we’d have more stable families, less stressed and broken marriages, more people willing and able to serve their cities and people in need, more inviting and caring church communities, more giving and helping the poor and marginalized, more attractional churches with bigger budgets and more missions and givings to other churches and people groups in need. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? It all has to start with individual financial health though. How do we miss this?
Agree? Disagree? Additional?
This is likely an incomplete list by any standard, but this is simply a few of the hot topics in our society with some of the most far-reaching effects, in my opinion. Like I’ve said, I commit to address these more in my thinking, writing and speaking in the months and years ahead, Lord willing.
If anyone else happens to read these, I’d love to hear your thoughts on agreements, disagreements, or what’s missing.