As I prepare to spend a week teaching the book of Jeremiah to Chinese pastors in Hong Kong, I’ve been reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of the Church in America. Regrettably, the list of negatives is longer than the list of positives.
To be clear, though, I’m speaking of the circles in which I travel, meaning evangelical Christian circles, so my observations might not apply to other Christian groups in America.
What are some of the strengths of the American Evangelical Church?
1) We are at the forefront of feeding the poor and providing disaster relief worldwide. From the earthquake in Haiti to the tsunami in Japan, and from orphanages in Latin America to feeding programs in Africa, organizations like World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse are there, making a difference.
2) We are a generous people when it comes to funding gospel work in America and abroad. While we can sometimes be self-indulgent as we build our latest mega-edifice, we are a giving people overall.
3) We have produced an abundance of Christian resources. If you’re looking for the latest translation of the Bible or a book on any aspect of Christian living, and if you’d like to download it to your phone, look no further.
4) We have a positive, can-do mentality. This is part of the American psyche, but it comports well with the biblical message of “All things are possible with God.”
5) Our churches offer many practical programs to help everyone from recovering drug addicts to couples needing marital counseling. To this day, ministries like Teen Challenge, which help people with drug and alcohol addictions, put government organizations to shame in terms of consistent rates of success.
6) We are strongly pro-life and pro-morality. This is especially true compared to Christians in many other nations, who seem oblivious to the evil of abortion and who fail to take moral stands on other issues.
7) We are strongly pro-Israel. Even the Israeli Knesset recognizes that American evangelicals are its best friends in the world, although in recent years, some evangelicals have challenged this consistent support for Israel.
8) We have sent many missionaries to the nations, also providing them with financial support. Beginning in 1812, this has been a great part of our spiritual history, and it has not primarily been for the purpose colonizing foreign peoples or making them into Westerners.
What are some of the weaknesses of the American Evangelical Church?