Friday, March 20, 2009

Analysis 0f Michael Spencer's "The Coming Evangelical Collapse" (Part 7)

Michael Spencer suggested the collapse of evangelical Christianity is at hand siting several causes. The last cause for the collapse is condensed by the Christian Science Monitor article to simply-

7. The money will dry up.

I went to Spencer's original article to understand what he means by the money drying up in evangelical Christianity. Here's the full statement:

A major aspect of this collapse will happen because money will not be flowing towards evangelicalism in the same way as before. The passing of the denominationally loyal, very generous “greatest generation” and the arrival of the Boomers as the backbone of evangelicalism will signal a major shift in evangelical finances, and that shift will continue into a steep drop and the inevitable results for schools, churches, missions, ministries and salaries.

Obviously if evangelicalism declines there will be a drop off in giving and shortfalls in churches, ministries, and schools that are "evangelical". This isn't a very bold prediction and is even a bit alarmist.

The kind of evangelicalism Spencer is addressing should go the way of the dinosaur as a sort of purge. There may be a seeming contraction of Christianity in America before there is an expansion. A smaller, more authentic Church is always better than a larger, lukewarm, compromised, church ineffective in carrying out the Great Commission. Sure, as evangelicalism dwindles, so will the money which flows to her various representative ministries, but it will not be the cause Spencer suggests but rather a result of her lukewarm, declining state.

Spencer makes too much of this point, in my opinion. Raising money for existing ministries is usually relative to the ministry's faithfulness with the resources it has already received. God generally blesses when we are faithful stewards of what He has given. To the degree "evangelical" institutions are not faithful, there will eventually be a corresponding discipline that could well take the form of a lack of resources.

Having said all this, people have been giving to lame evangelical causes for a long time- with lots of money. Look at Joel Osteen's "church". He is a self-professed evangelical and leads the largest evangelical church in the country. His exceedingly lame book "Your Best Life Now" manifests the worst in modern evangelical thinking, yet it has made him a millionaire. There will always be people willing to give money to erroneous (even false) teachers and their institutions or causes. Late night evangelists have been milking money out of poor old ladies since the television was invented. Joyce Meyers didn't buy her Lear Jet by inventing some new technology. While not in the exact same category as Osteen and Meyers, look at the money Rick Warren, his books, and burgeoning "network" have raked in. People have always given money to causes that are unworthy.

If money dries up for evangelicalism or any other such religious cause, it will more likely be a result of a larger societal economic recession or depression than due to it's superficiality or doctrinal weakness. There has just been far too much money given to unworthy causes for too long to assume the money will dry up just because.


Rick Calohan said...

If people still throw away money to The Blasphemy Network, and the Benny Hinns, Joyce Meyers, Joel Osteens of the world, then I am sure they will also throw away their money at so called Evangelism causes that are not spreading the Gospel of Christ. Yes, economics does play a part in what people give, especially when they believe its their money to begin with. The next thing you know these same people who give thinking they will receive something back in return will also create in their minds a path to salvation. After all if they continue to support these so called ‘Evangelistic’ movements, they have yet to hear the Holiness of God, the Sovereignty of God, Justice of God, the Mercy of God, the Love of God, the Covenants of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Amazing Grace.

Frontier Forest said...

I believe questions should be asked by every Christian, before an “offering” unto the Lord is made: “Why am I giving? Where is it going? Who will benefit? And most importantly, who will be glorified?” If we take what we have, no matter the amount, lay it at Christ’s feet, pray over it, and let Him decide how far it is to go, we have exercised good stewardship. Paul shares in II Corinthians 9:7 that giving unto the Lord is glorious and joyful worship experience never to be abused or taken for granted. In this kind of “God-giving,” the Lord will always bless the gift as well as the gifter. We too must remember, of what He has entrusted us with, not “one crumb” should be wasted. The responsibility of Biblical stewardship extends to every believer. Wasting God’s crumbs means the resources He has entrusted is foolishly given out; recklessly spent either through emotions, regretful obligation, or the worst; “giving to get.” To boil it down, when we see a need and feel led to give….. wait on the Lord! Give unto the Lord only after we have investigated and prayed. We set our pride, agendas and egos aside, get out of the way and leave ALL the results into His hands.