The Christian church in America, once an esteemed part of the American culture has fallen on hard times. Today, while many still profess to be Christians, church membership is in a decline leading many small and even some large churches to merge together to try and survive. others simply fade from the American landscape.
Each year over 4,000 churches close their doors for good while still others are struggling to hold onto the parishioners. Jame MacDonald in a sermon about the condition of today's Christian church in America stated, "of the 250,000 Protestant churches in America, 200,000 are either stagnant (with no growth) or declining. That is 80% of the churches in America and maybe the one you attend, if you attend at all."
There are a number of reasons for the decline in church attendance - changes in the American culture, a watered down Gospel, the attitude that the church is no longer relevant in modern society, people attending the new wave of internet churches, too much hypocrisy in the church, to name just a few.
Whatever the reason for the decline the result has been that the Christian church in trying to find a way to survive and stay relevant in an ever changing culture, is in the midst of a culture shift of its own.
While many Evangelical churches have held onto their beliefs and are still thriving there are many more who, because of declining membership, are trying to do what they can to bring people into the building even to the point of mimicking the pop culture of the world around them.
There are inherent problems with assimilating the pop culture into the church a process Billy Kangas a writer for Relevant magazine calls, "American evangelicalism."
Kangas say in a church, "where religious images are often absent, pop-culture representations of the faith can become the formative symbols and images that a faith community encounters. People begin to actually see Jesus primarily through the lens of materialism and pop-culture, both of which by their very nature are constantly in flux. As a result, evangelical faith becomes faddish, salvation is a style and praise is a phase."
Is this what God intended for His church? The answer is no.
In the beginning and down through the ages God warned His people, "be in the world but not of the world." Actually the verse in Romans 12:2 NLT states," Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." Christians are warned not to live as the world lives but stand out from the world by living living according to God's Word.
When too much of the worldly pop culture bleeds into the church it can lead to a sanitized Gospels message which offers the gift of God's love without the deeper message of repentance from sin.
People need to see the permanence of a relationship with Jesus not just think it is a fad which will fade away over time or just is a superficial feeling your wear on a t-shirt, bracelet or a bumper sticker on a car. They need to have some depth to their understanding of the mystery surrounding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
While the Christian pop culture should not be condemned as useless to further the Gospel and no church should be looked down upon for using the tools God has put into place like anything else it must be used with a lot of prayer.