How Relevant is the Church in Today's Culture?

As the relevancy of the church appears to be on the decline, some local pastors are meeting to discuss this in the wake of such things as the Sandy Hook shooting.

The mass shootings that appear to be on the increase have people searching for answers to this apparent wound in today's culture. Vice President Joe Biden was called on to head up a task force to find out how to combat the problem. Things under consideration include gun violence and how to address it, mental health issues in the country and whether the rampant violence on television and in the movies contributes to these events. Also under the spotlight are the violent games that many children are raised on now.

But there are others who say the problem goes much deeper and at its core is the moral decline in today's society and linked to that is the sidelining of the church. A group of pastors is meeting in Loganville this week to address the relevancy of the church in today's society.

"This is in the light of the tragedy in Connecticut," said Bob Farrier, a pastor who recently moved to the area from Florida. 

So what do you think? Is the relevancy of the church on the decline and do you think that has any culpability in recent events such as the mass shooting in Connecticut?

tank rollins January 13, 2013 at 07:37 PM
well said shane...you speak the ABSOLUTE TRUTH...and the problem with most of this country is the denial of that truth....
David Brown January 13, 2013 at 09:58 PM
The three of you ignored the question of whether the church has lost its relevancy. I'm a Christian and I believe if the church has lost some relevancy that it is because Christians have become too much like non-Christians. Look at the Christian divorce rate, for example. The divorce rate for Christian couples now surpasses that of non-Christian couples. One more thing. I never thought I would hear Christians advocating for bringing guns into God's house. We Christians take our worldview more from the culture than from the Bible. I could say MUCH more, but let me stop there.
Tammy Osier January 13, 2013 at 10:32 PM
I do jail ministry. It is so imperative that we introduce kids in trouble to the right way to do things. They will soon be adults, but have had little or no training in how to be responsible men and women. In one detention center we surveyed 115 kids and asked how many had only one parent. 98 kids raisedtheri hands! And a large percent didn't even know who their biological father was! So, these kids have not really seen a family that works. We teach them to rely on God and that putting him first, as their provider and protector is key. We need men to be men again. Societally, the biggest problem is the breakdown of the home. We preach the gospel. but also provide a good foundation for them to be able to apply what they know when they leave. We have aftercare to help as well. Many will go home to mom, and many times, mom has gotten help through our aftercare and began a whole new life. Putting a bandaid on the problems we have does nothing if we don't go to the source and heal the internal cause first.
Tammy Osier January 13, 2013 at 10:38 PM
David, to addressyour question; yes and no. yes, it's lost its revelency in the eyes of society at large, but in what it can and is doing, no. There are churches that are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Do you really think our media is going to announce that? Of course not! Then, we'd (society) support them instead of propping up the government. Government has gotten big and wants to stay the one with revelance. We can be in the world (and have responsibilities there) but not be of it. But if you're not of the world, just keep doing what you're supposed to be doing.
Paul L. Dragu January 14, 2013 at 12:55 AM
If the Church had lost it's relevancy we wouldn't get so much push-back from every atheist group and ACLU-copycat under the sun.Just this past weekend 60,000 kids in Atlanta raised $3 mil to combat worldwide slavery. Yesterday a great football player who was charged with murder a decade ago praised God on national TV and has become a light to his team and the city of Baltimore. Ask the people of the Amazon what they know about the people on the medical ships? No mam, the Church is coming alive if anything. We have some things to work on, but the gates of hell themselves won't prevail. They will try but they will fail.
Tammy Osier January 14, 2013 at 02:46 AM
P L D, I believe you'reright! the very fact that christianity is attacked on all fronts is evidence tht it does have revelance. I had not thought of it that way until you said it. Government seems to it it as a threat in any form (even forms allowed by the constitution). Amazing, huh?
Rosemarie Lieffring January 14, 2013 at 01:04 PM
I think what has also hurt the situation is bad doctrine and faulty theology. The churches haven't prepared people to struggle and live in and with adversity. Instead there has been this terrible prosperity message that if you believe in God and love Him, you will be given good things and spared from the bad ones. So when bad things happen to people who thought they had been faithful to God...their whole faulty belief system crumbles. The churches need to better prepare their people to struggle. They need to teach the lives of the saints so that the people can be inspired to handle the struggle. St. Stephen was the first Christian martyr. His stoning is documented in the book of Acts. History records that all of the Apostles were martyred for their faith, except for John who died a natural death. These are people who clearly loved and served God, yet they had to struggle, even unto death. Teach these stories...prepare the people to struggle in adversity and watch the relevance return.
James Heath January 14, 2013 at 02:16 PM
I believe we should question how relevant is Jesus Christ to anyone that say they are the church. Jesus is the Life that flows through the body of believers that represents the church in our society. Are we questioning the relevancy of Jesus or buildings?
Michael Robinson January 14, 2013 at 03:13 PM
Does it matter? Of course the church's influence is declining, but that's because we're becoming a more open-minded and pluralistic society. These transitions are often violent and noisy, but it's been calm and peaceful for the most part. I doubt the declining power of one particular institution's worldview is the cause of any large scale problem. If anything, we're becoming a more peaceful society by equalizing power across groups. It can be a little scary if you're in the group that's losing power, but it doesn't have to be.
Good Grief Y'all January 14, 2013 at 03:22 PM
All churches are not the same. Not all Christian churches teach the Bible the same as other Christian churches. Some are more about building their membership numbers and collections than helping the downtrodden and saving souls. That applies to main-stream churches and contemporary churches. I'm a nearly life-long Christian and have visited various denominations, but I didn't want my children to be taught someone else's version of Christianity in their public schools. If you want that, send your kids to private Christian schools.
Michael Robinson January 14, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Who's attacking Christianity?
Gail Lane January 14, 2013 at 04:30 PM
I don't think the church, or lack thereof, would have made any significant difference in the events in Connecticut. The shooter was clearly either evil, if you're one who believes in that sort of thing, or mentally ill, if you prefer to look at things from a psychological/medical view. How we - as a nation or individually - deal with the shooting may be evidence of the relevance of our churches, but I think this is perhaps an opportunistic "summit" based upon a headline that is still getting some footage. While the particular pastor organizing the meeting of religious minds might have the best intentions, I don't think we can look at Loganville, with it's many churches and active memberships, as evidence of an irrelevant church. A Yellow Pages search of Baptist Churches ALONE netted 23 listings with Loganville addresses. Whether the doctrines taught within each building are vastly different - either with a contemporary slant or seeped in ancient rituals - the premise of a living God and Christ's resurrection are at the root of the lessons. If there is irrelevance, I believe it is because Christians argue on the fine points of "how" and "when" these lessons are taught as well as the "why." We are prone to disagree and re-organize over single verses and the placement of commas; all this undermines the gift of Grace and the relevance of God's church so effectively.
Michael Robinson January 14, 2013 at 05:06 PM
You painted a country of 350 million people with a single brush. And as a liberal-minded person, your more narrow generalization of liberal-minded people is tiresome. It's no different from when someone paints my many Christian friends with the Vatican or Westboro Church brush. Or when someone paints my Muslim friends with the al-Qaeda brush. I could build a large list of specific generalizations I know are false first hand, but I don't know if it would help you understand why generalizations of diverse groups are inherently faulty.
Stan January 14, 2013 at 06:18 PM
I agree, I don't think churches or the lack thereof has much to with the problem.
Karsten Torch January 14, 2013 at 07:09 PM
Relevancy and influence are different things. I think the Church (take your pick which one) is very relevant to society, more so today than ever, in my opinion. Influence, however, seems to be waning. And in my opinion it's because we're moving into a society of people that would rather not answer to a higher being. It's too much like being responsible for yourself. And we all know that we can't have that.... The influence of the church will hopefully increase in the near future. It will need to, or we will be lost. Like I heard somebody say not long ago - Evil is no bad, evil is the absence of good, the absence of God. God is our navigator, our basis for our morals and ethics. You may think you don't need Him or His teachings, but where would we be without them?
ToJo January 14, 2013 at 07:54 PM
The evolution of the "church" is making it more irrelevant with waning influence on a daily basis. The church i refer to should probably be called organized religion. People are growing tired of the hypocrisy that the religions preach. If you are "bad" you will burn in hell, if you are "good" you will get 70 virgins. In my mind, it is obvious that we are part this wonderful thing called life. No one knows what is next, however when I look around and see the magnificence of life I am encouraged. I believe we are all part of something more fantastic than our simple minds can comprehend. Religion in it's current form limits us and in many cases poisons us. Understanding would be great, but it is not required. Open your mind to the possibilities.
Michael Robinson January 14, 2013 at 08:09 PM
Do you mean to say everyone who doesn't believe in god is amoral? My morals are humanist, but they're still morals, and reasonably compatible with the kind of morals most religions recommend.
Karsten Torch January 14, 2013 at 08:49 PM
I don't actually mean that. What I mean by that is that most actual morals are based on those from scripture. Now, those may have found meaning from somewhere before that, but there has to be a base to things, and our current ideas of moral and immoral come from those basics. All I'm saying...
Karsten Torch January 14, 2013 at 08:52 PM
Those are actually good points, ToJo. Organized religion is what kept me out of church for near 20 years. The hypocrisy you find in some churches is astounding. However, the Church is different from organized religion, IMO. A belief in God is not a bad thing, but believing in somebody else's version of that god could be very bad.
Michael Robinson January 14, 2013 at 09:56 PM
If we can separate morals from religion, then it doesn't make sense that a faltering of religion leads to a faltering of morals. Otherwise, you'd see more people committing atrocities after losing their religion. And I'm still not convinced we're a less moral people than we were in the past. We may be more tolerant of more kinds of expression, and more inclusive of divergent opinions, but I don't see that as an indication of lapsing morals. I consider that a progression of morals.
Rebecca McCarthy (Editor) January 14, 2013 at 10:30 PM
Tammy, you ride this horse a lot, blaming the media for various societal problems. The thing is that "news" is so balkanized, with zillions of publications for every interest, every denomination, cause and group. There are TV stations, public radio stations and newspapers (and even Patch sites) that cover religions in its various manifestations. You are wise enough to know this. Given the world news (raping a woman on a bus in India, Syria government officials bombing their own women and children, Russia refusing to let Americans adopt children) and the shrinking news hole of some newspapers, religion isn't as large a topic as I think it should be. It's not a conspiracy, it's just someone making a decision to cover something. I have to say that church members and churches in general rarely notify anyone about their activities. Though, with Patch, they are getting better.
Gail Lane January 14, 2013 at 11:10 PM
I agree with you Rebecca. Churches should do what they do and not expect media coverage - and most don't expect it. Both sides of almost every polarizing issue point to "the media" as part of the problem citing specific instances of bias in specific publications. I hear it from both sides here in my house and always with a sneer attached to "the media." It's much different when you ARE part of that media and doing your absolute best to both present something that is balanced but will also catch the attention of the readers. It's totally regrettable, however, that folks like Westboro catch media deadlines with their bad behavior; those who are prone to draw conclusions with that broad brush seem to find them an icon for Christianity these days and that's just not right. Churches may have lost their relevancy, but I believe it is due to the trends in organized religion, rather than a true moving away from Christianity or spirituality. Many truly Godly and spiritual people seek a place to worship, but have a hard time reconciling today's mega-church-attitudes, I think. As Karsten said somewhere down in the comments here, I stayed away from organized religion for years because of the hypocricy I found in those churches that I visited. And I think Karsten and I are not alone in finding this to be more the norm than the exception.
John B January 14, 2013 at 11:22 PM
Spot on ToJo...good post.
Paul L. Dragu January 14, 2013 at 11:23 PM
Michael Robinson, morals come from religion, whether you like it or not. Your humanist viewpoint is based on a foundation that was set by religious morals (see Declaration of Independence;" ...enDowed by their CREATOR) ,i.e don't steal, murder, work, etc...You can still have morals without religion, as we clearly see now, but without a reason, a base to lean on, your morals will change depending on convenience and politics. Example: It is convenient to overlook that abortion is the killing of a human being with a heart beat b/c we have overpopulation, poverty, and sometimes rape. So we change our morals. Hitler convinced the Germans that genocide of the Jews was ok b/c of "how bad" they were for the economy, but the core is that the Germans who complied did so b/c they had no foundation for their morals. The ones who were people of religious-based morals and opposed such actions, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, got killed. Bottom line, a moral society without God will cease to be a moral society (see also Romans, Babylonians, Greeks, and any of the Chinese Dynasties- the proof is in the pudding)
Bob Farrier January 15, 2013 at 01:45 AM
At the center of any society is their religion, whether Christianity, Islam, Hinduism or Atheism. The more directly people feel connected to a particular religion, the greater will be its influence (or relevancy) on that society or culture. What the church in Europe and now the USA has failed to recognized is that we are in a spiritual warfare for dominion. It is kingdom against kingdom, values against values, truth against lies, righteousness against lawlessness and light against darkness. The church does not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principles, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places. When church leaders of any nation ignore the dark rulers of this world, that nation suffers. We are all witness to this fact. The real question is; is the church, the called out believers from this world, going to be transformed into the image of Christ and then be empowered by His Spirit. Will they then go forth and extend His kingdom or hide their heads in the sand and plead ignorance to the King of Glory when He returns? This will, in the end, determine its Relevancy.
David Brown January 15, 2013 at 02:27 PM
I commend the Christian singers who are performing in a free event tonight in Newtown, Connecticut. TobyMac, Chris Tomlin, Mandisa, Laura Story, Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Building 429 will be there. I also commend the team from Calvary Chapel-Stone Mountain who went to New Jersey to help residents rebuild from Hurricane Sandy. These type of activities by Christians advance the relevancy of the church. They also more accurately reflect the heart of Jesus and help the cause of the gospel than when Christians participate in certain political activities.
Good Grief Y'all January 15, 2013 at 03:30 PM
Amen. "Don't speak to me about your religion; first show it to me in how you treat other people. Don't tell me how much you love your God; show me in how much you love all His children. Don't preach to me your passion for your faith; teach me through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I'm not as interested in what you have to tell or sell, as I am in how you choose to live and give." ~~~ Mayor Cory Booker, Newark
r patton January 15, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Never, never discuss religion or politics in public, you will only lose.
r patton January 15, 2013 at 05:13 PM
David Brown, did you ever think it makes "THEM" feel good, not about the disaster?
Pete January 18, 2013 at 04:03 PM
And what about the 8 out of 13 Georgia members of the House of Representatives who voted NO to Hurricane Sandy Aid to people in the Northeast? God forgive them. They need to go to church.


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