The new American religion

by Jim Eaton, lead pastor of Mosaic Church
American Christianity

From our earliest beginnings we accommodated slavery into the core of our documents and our lifestyle, in violation of the Word of God. We worshiped Deism (Thomas Jefferson) and Transcendentalism/Unitarianism (John Adams), rejecting the person and work of Jesus Christ. The truth is, the blessing of Christianity upon this nation was due, not to our founding fathers, but occasional visits by the Holy Spirit in response to fasting and prayer, creating awakenings or revivals which sparked a strong movement of Christianity amid other wrongful beliefs. Thus we have throughout our history alternated between non-Christian ideals and Christian beliefs, resulting in churchianity.

America has now lost its churchianity, its cultural version of Christianity, in favor of pluralism. Pluralism means that all religious ideas, all faith traditions, are equal and optional according to the individual. There is no one truth, there are only many personal “truths” according to what each person feels in his or her experience. This is the new American religion.

A radically different America

The millennial generation experiences a radically different America than previous generations. As Christ-followers, we have two choices: either we retreat into a fortress mentality in which we react against cultural and religious change, or we position our minds, our hearts and our entire lives into Jesus’ mission. The present political climate serves as a reliable indicator of which way many in the evangelical church are going, and it’s precisely the wrong way.

Jesus’ final words to his disciples before his ascension into heaven were constructed carefully and exquisitely as a mission: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NIV).

Jesus’ commission to his disciples is meant to be understood as extending to the whole church until Jesus returns. This is our call, our raison d’etre, our purpose for being. If we are not pursuing Jesus’ mission, we may be many things, but we are not his church. The true church pursues Jesus’ mission. It is what it is.

Our mission is comprised of three parts: 1) Follow the Holy Spirit—it’s all his doing, his initiative, his ability. 2) Share Jesus’ gospel—every person, every sector of life, every possible way. 3) Reach all people—we are not free to set up our own barriers; we reach everybody.

America’s most urgent mission fields

America is morphing from churchianity to pluralism in the major metro areas of the nation—the strategic thought and influence centers—then radiating outward to the suburbs, smaller towns and finally rural areas. Not every place is equally a mission field—yet—but it’s coming faster than you think, thanks to technology.

The gateway cities of America comprise some of the most urgent mission fields in the world, yet these are precisely the areas least-churched and least-evangelized, because of our obsession with affluence and personal comfort.

American Christians will send missionaries to other parts of the world, but we refuse to be missionaries ourselves in our own mission field because it might threaten our acquisition of stuff, our idolatry of sports and entertainment, our comfortable racial enclave.

In contrast, we are crying out to God for a supernatural move of his Spirit.

“Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10, NIV).

Let’s get practical

So let’s get practical here. If we take on the challenge facing America’s church with the gospel, and get on mission with Jesus in our mission field, what does that mean for us?

First, everything we do at our churches assumes the presence of the non-believer. No ministry insulates itself from people who are searching and investigating Christianity. Always be looking for the person who is asking questions, wrestling with doubts, struggling with spiritual wounds. We’re not a store in the mall, we’re a hospital in the battlefield.

Second, we depend absolutely on the Holy Spirit, prayer and the Word of God. This goes way beyond method or technique or system. This is a spiritual struggle in the heavenlies involving the eternal souls of people! We constantly outrun our headlights, but never God’s.

Third, we accept the challenge of engaging with people who are at varying points of their spiritual understanding. Some people will know more of the Word, some less. Some will enter our doors rejecting 90 percent of what we teach. People are not an irritation, they’re the reason we’re here. We will love everyone, serve everyone, bless everyone with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Fourth, this is not a quick fix but a lifelong journey. We’re not taking a walk in the park, we’re scaling an impossible mountain. This isn’t a hobby, it’s a calling. This will take every ounce of energy, every resource, every moment of time we have. It will require full commitment from everyone.

Fifth, we expect God to do the impossible. William Carey, pioneer missionary from England to India, said this: “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.” We’re not here to manage the possible, but accomplish the impossible.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV).

Jim Eaton is lead pastor of Mosaic Church, a multicultural Converge congregation in Frederick, Maryland. The son of a missionary, Jim is well versed in racial and cultural issues and recently completed two terms as a Converge overseer.

    Point - September 2018

    Point Magazine

    Our official magazine, publishing captivating stories of God's work in our midst.

    Subscribe for free >