What Happened to My Church?
By Jan Markell, September 5, 2018, www.olivetreeviews.org
Church issues are the most frequent inquiry I get here at Olive Tree Ministries. Other leaders tell me the same. What has happened in the last 30-40 years? Many people visit church after church only to walk away disheartened. Others are lifetime members of a church and have seen changes that left it unrecognizable — spiritually speaking.
At first, members and attendees wonder if they are being a bit too judgmental, but the sad reality eventually sinks in that something has gone terribly wrong.
My background is in a fundamental church in Minneapolis that delivered verse-by-verse messages and had frequent prophecy conferences. Try to find that today! You will find a few, but they are few and far between. This same church warned me about a coming apostasy back in the 1970s, but who knew it would get so bad starting somewhere in the 1990s. Nothing could have prepared me!
First, it was music that became the great divider. Nobody minds some guitars and a bass, but into the second decade of the 21st Century, ear plugs are handed out as one enters the church sanctuary.
Some churches open with a secular song, dim the lights, add some smoky fog, and have an atmosphere similar to the local bar. All of this is to enhance choruses that will be sung two-dozen times by hypnotized church members. I would learn that it is to attract “seekers” — a 21st century term. Bill Hybels admitted that he came up with the term but confessed it didn’t work well in his church!
Organs and pianos were tossed out 25 years ago because they did not promote “church growth.” The over-age 55 crowd was on their own. Some churches threw them a bone with an 8 a.m. service for those with gray heads. That trend began “the great divide” between generations.
Someone made a conscious decision that we should have a “new way of doing church”, although many members and attendees agreed there was nothing wrong with old ways of doing church. Terms began being used like “purpose-driven,” “seeker-sensitive,” “church-growth movement,” “postmodernism”, “emergent” and more.
People started to hear about love, unity and tolerance. We must be known for what we agree on, not what we disagree on. Everything and everyone must be accepted. Aberrations must be accepted. Sin must be accepted. People loved having their ears tickled. They would be encouraged to “feel good” and have their self-esteem built up. Sound doctrine was being set aside.
The saving of souls was being set aside for the entertainment factor and social justice causes. It seemed that many in the church no longer cared that so many were on their way to hell! What an offensive, intolerant thought. But clearly sound doctrine will separate and divide so we must tread lightly in that area.
Relevant issues have vanished. Pulpits have become afraid to talk about voting biblical values. Pastors quit speaking in favor of marriage and against abortion. It seemed like an “eleventh commandment” came into the church: Thou shalt not offend. Taking a stand was clearly over.
When it came to issues like Bible prophecy, the silence became deafening! People were told this was “divisive” although rock music in the church apparently was not! Millions are going to be left behind at the rapture of the Church but there are no warnings about this going out from hardly any church. Instead, pulpits are dispensing Osteen-type messages that talk about “your best life now” on this broken, corrupt planet.
This is just a short explanation as to why e-mails and letters pour into this ministry and others asking about how they might find a healthy, relevant church in their neighborhood.