Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

5 Ways the Church Survives in a Secular Age

We are living in what Charles Taylor calls a secular age. Many of the changes that have caused us to arrive at this point have happened slowly over 500 years. We often do not realize the extent to which we have embraced the secular. It is in the air we breathe. It is everywhere. We are secular, and we don’t even know it. Churches and spiritual institutions are not immune to these changes. One of the problems we face is that seekers who are searching for the sacred will be turned off by churches that have embraced the secular. We must take a step back and consider what it means to be religious in a secular age. Here are five things Christians should be doing to survive in a secular age.

Abstain From Politics – 24-hour news networks and talk radio are not spiritually healthy, and they are hurting the church. It is sad when Christians talk more about politics than Jesus. It is disheartening that Christians are more apt to share their political views on social media than their faith. Even at church, many people would rather talk about politics than the text that was read in worship or the sermon. We need to turn off the 24-hour news networks. We need to stop listening to talk radio. We need to unfollow politics on social media, and we need to focus on Jesus. If you want to be informed, then read a newspaper. Limit your news intake to no more than 30 minutes a day. Vote if you want to participate in elections, but don’t be consumed by politics. We are not reaching our communities with the good news about Jesus because they are not hearing or seeing good news from us. They are hearing and seeing politics.

Follow the Sermon on the Mount – We are living in a polarized society where violence is common. Christians are to be set apart. We are to be different from the world around us. We do this by following the Sermon on the Mount. We need to read it regularly and do what it says. Don’t explain it away. Don’t make excuses. We need to live out the instructions found in Matthew 5-7. We are citizens of the kingdom of God, and this should be evident in how we live and act. We must refrain from worldly responses to division. It is time that we take Jesus seriously and do what he says.

Embrace the Sacred – Without knowing it, churches have embraced the secular. We have adopted secular calendars. We have doubted the miraculous. We have neglected prayer. We have made worship about emotional music and a motivational speech. In many ways, churches are no different than secular groups and institutions. It is time that we reclaim the sacred. We need to acknowledge God is at work. We need to devote ourselves to prayer. We need to recognize worship is an encounter with God. We need to be formed by what is sacred, not by what is secular.

Proclaim the Gospel – What message are we proclaiming? We are sending messages all the time, what are they? People are not going to believe the good news about Jesus if they never hear us talk about it. They are not going to believe our lives have changed if they do not see it. Too often, the message we are proclaiming is one about politics, sports, entertainment, fashion, etc. There are people all around us who are interested in spiritual matters, but they will never ask us if we are too busy proclaiming a secular message. If all people hear us talk about is politics, sports, entertainment, fashion, etc., then they will assume this is how we make sense of life. We don’t have to become street preachers, but people need to hear spiritual talk from us. We need to be sending the message that God matters.

Be Committed to Community – One hour on Sunday will not cut it in a secular age. We need one another. We need relationships. We need friendships. The early church was committed to community (Acts 2:42-47), and we need to follow their lead. People are searching for true community. They are not interested in joining another social club. If the institutionalized church cannot achieve this, then other options may need to be examined. House churches and small groups may provide the answers. Every member is important. Every member needs to be contributing to the work of the church. Showing up and checking out is not an option. Without true Christian community, congregations will die in a secular age.

One Response to “5 Ways the Church Survives in a Secular Age”

  1. […] to think about these issues. My friend Scott has some great thoughts to consider on this point (read his article here). This much is clear – if we want to see our congregations flourishing, we can’t keep […]

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