Saturday, June 20, 2015

The United States I was born in no longer exist.

Tonight I attended a Franklin Graham Festival of Hope- a one night crusade in Lviv, Ukraine.  I guess Franklin Graham does several of these per year around the world so it's a well-oiled machine. Organizers were hoping fill the stadium in Lviv- capacity 35,000.  Initial estimates is that there were 39,000 in attendance tonight.

My guess is nearly 10,000 people came forward during the Invitation (to Just As I Am no less). Many that came forward were escorting friends and again, initial estimates from a friend on the committee suggest there were at least 2000 first time decisions.

It was fascinating to me on several levels and I'm a little bit emotional right now.  Here are a couple observations.

1.  Franklin Graham is a chip off the old block. He looks so much like his father and sounds like him, too.  His delivery reminded me of watching his father on TV when I was a child. Here's the thing though: I have a few favorite communicators. I really like Ben Stuart at Breakaway Ministries at Texas A & M. He's brilliant, he's current/relevant, his sermons are "meaty", and he's witty without sounding like he's trying too hard to be. He's fun to listen to and I learn from him.  I'm not sure if Franklin Graham smiled tonight and I don't think there was a hint of humor in anything he said. There was no entertainment value whatsoever in his presentation. He proclaimed a super simple evangelistic message entombed in the Prodigal Son narrative from Luke 15.  I bet I could have delivered the same message.  I bet I could have read his message or maybe preached it with more passion and better illustrations (Franklin didn't use any illustrations...he just read the scripture and told the story). I bet I could have done that and possibly no one would have come down from the upper level.  Franklin did his best Billy imitation and the field flooded with people making a decision for Christ.

2. I remember a time in the country I was born in- the United States of America- when, if Billy Graham was holding a Crusade (usually a 5-7 night thing, right?) anywhere in the world, it would be broadcast on Primetime Network TV.  It would bore me as a child and I would be angry that my regular programming of All in the Family or Rockford Files was pre-empted...but I was young and stupid and didn't appreciate then how awesome it was that the world's preeminent evangelist was on national TV.

3.  At the same time that Billy Graham was on national network tv several times a year there were a couple other things happening in the world.  Ukraine- the country I live in right now- was behind the Iron Curtain. We in America considered everyone behind said curtain as godless atheist. The Church in America in the 70's and 80's bemoaned the direction of the Church, fearing we were headed for the same fate as the Church in Western Europe- dead and empty.

4.  And here we are today.  I can say unequivocally that Ukraine, even when it was behind the Iron Curtain I think, was and is far more conservative and generally more moral than the Disunited States of America.  That doesn't mean it is more "Christian" than the Disunited States (or the country that preceeded it, the United States).  By any measure the States would still be regarded as more "evangelized" and "Christian" than Ukraine where only 3-5% of the population identify as Born Again Christians.  But America is in a moral tailspin.  Much of the conflict in Ukraine over the past year or so is that many Ukrainians desperately want the freedoms and rule of law associated with the US and with Europe but they equally desperately DON'T WANT the lack of morality.

It pains me to visit large, beautiful,empty Cathedrals and churches here in Europe- the light is gone. You hear stories of many of them being turned into Mosques (it's happened before in Europe). But I've also been to some very solid, very vibrant churches in Europe. Most of them are meeting in rented facilities, no longer able to bear the tax burden of owning large properties (American Churches, you're next!).  Some are sizable; most are small. The numbers of Christians are few; but they are strong.

Could there ever again be a 5 night nationally televised major network Church Service in America? No, I doubt it. For the most part the "religious leaders" that get that kind of airtime in America today are nut job celebrities that rub shoulders with Oprah and wear a plastered hairdo to go along with a $10K suit while promising riches and ease.

No. The Disunited States of America is a Post-Christian Country. Culture and many (most) of our churches have slid way beyond the European Church it once feared.

Here's my prediction: American Culture will continue to slide toward (and beyond) Gomorrah.  There will be a lot of falling away within the American Church. But the few will grow stronger. Freedom probably grows churches far and wide, but persecution grows churches deep.  And by the way: The persecution hasn't started yet...America, get over yourself. None of the backlash you're facing now is real persecution. 

1 comment:

Danny said...

Bro you are right on. I us d to believe a turning point was possible but it is clear now the country has passed the tipping point and the church is comfy with it....or at least not bothered enough to act concerned.