by Dave Coryell
On Monday, October 8, Florida State Governor Rick Scott issued a mandatory evacuation for all people in the path of Hurricane Michael. Most people heeded the Governor’s warning and fled to safety. Michael carved a multi-billion dollar destructive path through parts of the Caribbean, Florida and neighboring states. Sixty people lost their lives from the storm’s cataclysmic impact; many died because they did not heed the Governor’s warning. Around the world, several natural disasters occur each year. Modern technology from brilliant scientific minds allows for early warnings to come for most situations. Inevitably, a few people will chose to ignore the early warning signs.
Imagine a situation where 99.9% of the population ignored the early warning signs instead of the other way around. The death toll would be catastrophic! I contend that the American Church has been given three Early Warning Signs. Currently, the masses are choosing to ignore these signs. God’s work is never in jeopardy. His purposes will be accomplished whether or not the American church decides to open its eyes. However, my hope is that by pointing out these Early Warning Signs that God will use this information to motivate His people to rise up and Commit so they can Engage. God, please make it so.
Early Warning Signs:
- Diminishing Biblical World View- In 2007 the Pew Research group conducted a survey studying the beliefs of Americans and of Evangelical Christians across several age groups. The study was conducted a second time in 2014 to see what results had changed. Between 8 and 9 percent of American young adults aged 18-24 and aged 25-34 have a Biblical world view. The number improves slightly for those 35 and over to 13 percent. Overall, numbers continue declining for Evangelical Christians and are declining even faster for mainline church attenders. Bottom line, many Christians do not understand or truly own the beliefs of the faith they claim to hold. A steady rise in Christian behavior conforming more and more to the world’s cultural norms can be seen in almost every challenging arena.
- Disappearing Teen Responsibility- I know, some will be quick to say that teenagers and young people in general have always been challenged in this area. Others will rush to pull out quotes from Aristotle and others who wrote of adolescents’ irascible behavior. I found it interesting, however, to read Leslie Patton’s Bloomberg Business post on November 5th that explained how fast food chains are now hiring an increased number of senior citizens. Two reasons this trend has occurred include, 1) older people are found to be friendlier than the younger generation and 2) they have a more dependable punctuality. The older generations have soft skills that far surpass the raw soft skills found in teens and young adults. The obvious conclusion, teens and young adults need to sharpen their interpersonal skills. Once upon a time this transpired in school classrooms, at church youth group gatherings, and in public arenas like entry level jobs (fast food, etc.). Today, less opportunities exist for teens to grow their responsibility. What happens when young people who have not been challenged to make and keep commitments, lead small groups, or speak publicly are suddenly asked by a church to make a financial pledge, join a leadership team, or (pause to shudder) become a church member.
- Catholic Priest Tragedy- It started in Pennsylvania as priests from 300 different parishes were found to be involved in the sexual exploitation of young people. As expected, state prosecutors have been coming forward one by one to share the grim results investigations have uncovered. Those in Protestant Christianity cannot sit back for a minute and think that this tragedy will not have impact beyond the Catholic Church. A distrust for what some call institutionalized or organized religion has already been climbing for decades. The Catholic Priest Tragedy has allowed people to feel justified in the anti-established religious beliefs that so many people already held. How long will it be before even more people come forward to share about impropriety that occurred in their Protestant churches beyond the few stories that have emerged?
These cultural Early Warning Signs send a message. This message causes me to stop and say well, is there any good news? Absolutely! First, we must never lose hope as our trust is in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Proverbs 3) Second, I am thankful to serve with Christian Endeavor, a kingdom ministry daily making a small impact to help young people Commit to a deeper following of Christ and Engage to build God’s kingdom while having accountability on the journey. God, help Your church to Awake and Arise by heeding these Early Warning Signs.