“The church says the earth is flat; but I have seen its shadow on the moon, and I have more confidence even in a shadow than in the church.” ― Ferdinand Magellan
There was a point in history when the church was the very backbone of society. It shaped every aspect of culture from fashion to science.
We have seen times when the church abused its power, but we have also witnessed when the church was a driving force behind a successful society.
During Ferdinand Magellan’s time, the church taught that the world was flat. Yet he knew that it wasn’t because he had observed the shadow of the earth on the moon. Believe it or not, the “Flat Earth Theory” is still a belief. And it has become more popular over the last couple of years, especially among young influential minds. (If you don’t believe me, just look up the Flat Earth Society.)
For example, if you go to TFES.org you will find quotes from Shaq O’Neal who is apparently now a “flat Earther.” There are several websites, blogs and books that provide information that is supposed to point to why the earth is flat.
So if people in society are going back to this idea that the earth is flat, where is the church? We have ceased to become influential with each passing year! Our light seems to grow more and more dim.
Sometime over the last few decades or so, we went from being a people that shapes society to a people that is shaped by society. Unfortunately, most churches handle this issue one of two ways.
The first type of model is one where the church strives to keep up with current trends and ideologies even if those things contradict the Bible. In other words, this type of coping leads to fallacies and hypocrisy because pleasing people with fluffy theology would be better than losing people by speaking the truth.
The second way that churches try to combat society is by becoming a “monument” instead of a movement. This type of church doesn’t care as much about reaching people where they are, as much as they like to preserve the way that church “used to be.” Often times, these churches look no different today than they did a decade ago. They have a few faithful members but don’t see any growth.
If we want to survive as a church then we need to find a balance between the two. We need to be keeping up with trends and ideologies that don’t contradict or go against the word of God. We need to preserve who we are without holding so tightly to what we know. We cannot be afraid to change when we aren’t effectively reaching people anymore.
This idea that the earth is flat contradicts reasoning and science. Similarly, the church has become “flat” to society.
Yet, an ineffective church is something that contradicts what the Bible teaches. The church must once again become an influencing movement within society that shapes the culture around it.
If we don’t, we may very well cease to exist.
David Waddle is Pastor at the Lynchburg First Church of Christ.