In Crisis Magazine, a Catholic publication, author and priest George Rutler laments the lack of strong church leaders in the Catholic faith. He quotes an English bishop that stated: “Wherever St. Paul went, there was a riot. Wherever I go, they serve tea.” Rutler’s concern over the loss of spiritual boldness and trajectory of the future warns against what should be avoided in our own ranks as Apostolics.
Our world has changed dramatically. A generation ago, pastors were expected to preach absolutes, express strong opinions, and offer moral standards for daily living. The world looked to the church for answers, and while they may not have liked or lived up to them, there was a certain comfort in knowing where to go to find the truth taught and preached. Today, the expectation has changed. Church seeking has taken on a new level of meaning.
No longer do people look to a church or denomination that corresponds to specific doctrines and tenets of faith, but they go from church to church looking for an experience that suits every family member. Is the Sunday school program exciting? Do they provide enough youth events? Is the pastor engaging, interesting and time conscious? So to meet these expectations churches today respond with “better” marketing, websites, social media and events focused primarily on time efficiency and catch-all theology. It’s not to say we shouldn’t focus on areas that can benefit from improvement, but we must make certain that the time and energy placed on becoming “better” does not restrict our spiritual effectiveness and anointing, or water down our commitment to our core doctrines.
Mainline Christianity has taken “better” to mean speaking in generalities, sticking to sermonic encouragement rather than conversion and a moral relativism that doesn’t intrude on lifestyle choices. If Apostolics head too far down this path, we will lose our purpose altogether. This generation is surrounded by relativism – our clarity, strength in doctrine and our reliance upon scriptural absolutes and the Holy Spirit to guide our lives, our churches and our services is what will set us apart from the noise of everything else. Why do they need to come to a 60-minute church service if they can watch a TED talk, or listen to motivational podcast for the same effect?
The world needs preachers to fill its pulpits and young people unafraid to reach those around them with a dynamic, powerful and anointed Apostolic message. “Where there are bishops of moral vigor, there will be an abundance of young men willing to take up the call of priestly service. Where the spirit is tepid and refreshes itself on the thin broth of a domesticated and politically correct Gospel, seminaries will be vacant. As C.S. Lewis gave account: ‘We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst’” (Rutler, Jan. 22, 2018, Crisis Magazine).