This past week, my wife, Rosemary, and I were honored to host the Future Conference at Skyline Church, where I have served as senior pastor for the past 20 years.
Over the unique four-day event, more than 50 speakers covered 27 different topics, seguing seamlessly from one topic to another in a manner that only God could have ordained – and we felt His overwhelming presence.
Each session represented a call-to-arms – not downcast, but competently strategic. Every speaker identified today's historical and cultural crossroad, assessed the price to be paid, and provided a plan to move forward toward the assured victory, all based on the Word of God.
The Future Conference was an edgy, gutsy, relationship-driven learning event designed to educate, embolden, and activate pastors, Christian leaders, and all followers of Christ to courageously and dangerously live out the Lordship of Jesus in the context of the most challenging issues in the current cultural landscape.
Our methodology was to connect today's key thinkers and activists with "boots on the ground" believers, who will apply transferable and transformational constructs to improve the quality of life in their respective communities.
Unfortunately, these challenging issues and controversial, taboo topics are multiplying. Experts in each field were brought in to further explain and offer practical solutions, in the hope that the interaction would inspire pastors to contact these authorities and consult their writings in the future.
However, as many of you know (quoting the well-known musical, "The Music Man"), "Ya got trouble my friends – You're in terrible, terrible trouble!"
And while many of us know our nation is in trouble (the catalytic reason I chose to host the Conference), most don't know why – or are in denial about the answer.
Our nation is in trouble because of the Church.
The problem is, though the Bible speaks to the messiness of our culture and resultant civic and national issues, the Church often lacks a clear proclamation of Biblical truth.
Instead, we have come to believe that it is no longer acceptable for a pastor to preach about certain topics or issues, such as adultery, fornication, or homosexuality, without being labeled "political." Beliefs and behaviors that have been viewed historically as wrong by the Church are now often ignored – even sometimes even praised – in pulpits nationwide.
The real question is, "Why?" What is happening within our church walls?
First, many church attendees no longer recognize authentic Biblical preaching. Second, many pastors are allowing the world to dictate what is "political," enabling them to be silenced. Or, they are permitting parishioners – many of whom do not adhere to an authentically Biblical worldview – to prescribe what is preached.
All too often, a minister will receive an e-mail on Monday morning hinting, "Pastor, if you are going to be 'political'" – there is that word again – "then our family may have to leave." That contains the implicit threat: "And with us will go our tithe money."
At that point, some clergy back down out of fear, or because they worship the idols of attendance and offerings.
But none of these issues is "political." These issues, and others, are Biblical and moral – not "political" – and we cannot be silent about them.
I have seen the future, and it is now. For us as pastors, let Biblical clarity reign from our pulpits!
For us as Christian leaders, let Biblical principles be espoused in everyday life.
For us as serious followers of Jesus, let Biblical application to national issues be understood and affirmed, even in casual conversations.
I thank the Lord for the nearly 1,400 courageous believers who responded to the call to attend the Future Conference, and were encouraged, empowered educated, emboldened, and activated to make a difference in our nation and our world – for Christ's sake.
Dr. Jim Garlow is senior pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego, whose one-minute commentary, "The Garlow Perspective," is heard daily on more than 850 radio outlets. Follow him on Twitter at @JimGarlow.
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