In the fall of 2020, I was increasingly burdened by the condition of our culture; the combination of the covid-19 impacts, social unrest, political upheaval, and economic uncertainty had combined to create a tidal wave of disequilibrium in our world. In that season, I felt compelled to write what was on my heart and mind. Part of the urgency in my spirit to write this book has been the breadth and depth of what has been revealed about our culture and the spiritual condition of our nation. But my burden for the spiritual realities of our world (as described in Ephesians 6) proceeds from and originates from the burden I have for the spiritual condition of the church in America.
When burdens come in life, it is easy for the people of God to react in negative fashion and be “against” what we see as coming from a contrary spirit operating in the world. In my years of leadership, I have learned to spend more time declaring what I am “for” than what I am “against”. Let me start this article by declaring that I believe God is calling the church to wake up, rise up, and stir up the callings of God in our culture. We are called to wake up and see the destructive forces that have been unleashed in our midst. We are called to rise up and strengthen our hearts and hands for the work that is before us. We are called to stir up the gifts of the Spirit within us and walk in the power of the resurrection, declaring the kindness of God and calling our community and culture to repentance and humility before the person and work of Jesus Christ (Romans 2:4, 8:9–11). I believe God is calling forth a generation of spirit-filled and spirit-empowered followers of Jesus to live and walk in heavenly ambassadorships where they extend the kingdom of heaven on earth.
The return of Jesus to planet earth, first as a babe in the manger, and second as a conquering king, is the greatest rescue story ever told. Jesus came to save, heal, and deliver from darkness and oppression those who have been captured by the enemy of their souls. The fundamental mission of the church is to live to the praise and glory of God (Ephesians 1) by being ambassadors of reconciliation in the world (2 Corinthians 5) and discipling nations (Matthew 28) through the equipping of the saints by the fivefold ministry leaders—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers (Ephesians 4). Today,
Sadly, many of us in church have been content to withdraw from society because we have falsely either believed in a “sacred/secular divide” where we think that social engagement is beneath us or a distraction from the gospel. Or, for some of us, we have an eschatology that says that the world is condemned and Jesus is coming back shortly so therefore the world is under judgment and our engagement in the culture of our communities is a waste of time. In my view, both theological and social worldviews are destructive and limiting for Christ followers. It was the engagement of the early church in culture that brought about the birth of the Christian witness in the early centuries. It was the building of churches, schools, hospitals, orphanages, and the ministries of feeding, teaching, equipping, and ministering in villages, towns, and cities that has fostered the spread of the Christian witness about Jesus and a wholistic view of salvation. The Biblical gospel is transformative or persons, families, and communities. Martin Luther said, “A gospel that does not deal with the issues of the day is not a gospel at all.”3
As I have been participating in this culture for the almost six decades of my life, I have observed at least five cultural giants of our time: historical revisionism, abortion and euthanasia, religious repression, racism and injustice, identity and family. Rather than being simply “against” these five giants, I believe the Lord is calling His people to be “for” these declarations in our culture:
5 Smooth Stones for the Church in Culture:
Biblical and Constitutional Foundations…we are committed to Biblical authority in life and view our Constitution as a stewardship trust so that we can see our nation bring glory to God through our national character
Life…we are committed to treating all human life as precious and made in the image of God. We honor life in the womb and outside the womb until natural death
Religious Liberty…we are committed to religious liberty and believe that a socialist economic and political system is the greatest natural threat to religious liberty around the world
Biblical Justice…we are committed to a Biblical experience of racial unity, justice, and application of a Biblical experience full of grace and truth to reforming our healthcare, immigration, and criminal justice systems.
Family and Gender…we are committed to Biblical views of gender, sexuality, marriage, and family where parents have the right and responsibility to protect children from harmful decisions and inputs
So, what should you do? How can you as an individual believer get involved in these critical areas of need. Here is a quick “action list” for you:
- Pray! 2 Chronicles 7:14 is in the Scripture for a reason. Claim that promise and press in to the heart of the Father
- Study. Dive deeper into 1-2 of the key issues of our day that are on your heart. Groups like Family Research Council (https://www.frc.org/), Foundations of Freedom (www.foundationsoffreedom.com), Alliance Defending Freedom (adflegal.org) and Pacific Justice Institute (www.pji.org) all provide amazing and in-depth resources for your study and they will link to other articles and information
- Engage in your local community through school boards, city councils, county supervisors, and your state and federal representatives. Build relationships and let your voice be heard! Check out theamericancouncil.org for tools that will automatically help you track issues and communicate with state and federal legislators.
- Connect with believers in your local church community. Part of what I have been praying for is believers across all 3,000 counties in America manifesting radical love, radical grace, and radical truth
- Give to Christ honoring causes. I personally believe we all should give our first 10% to the local assembly where we are experiencing Acts 2 (worship, teaching, fellowship, ministry) and then give beyond that into our local, national, and global initiatives that extend the witness of the people of God
God has always called His people to prevail. I am believing for a prevailing church. On the authority of the words of Jesus and in the power of His resurrection, I am declaring that the era of a passive, weak, disengaged, fear-filled church is over. The people of God are waking up, rising up, and stirred up for battle against the enemy. Though he is indeed a thief (John 10:10) and roars about like a “lion” (1 Peter 5:8), we declare that the only lion who matters is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and Jesus is His name (Isaiah 11:6, Revelation 5).
This article is adapted from the book, The Prevailing Church, published by Jessup University Press in 2020. Available on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Prevailing-Church-Confronting-Giants-Culture/dp/098843069X