If we are to continue "ark building" then we must pay attention to what was overwhelmingly said to us, the church, last night in the election. As I said before, this election was lost before last night ever arrived. Statistics tell us as much. Many media outlets are reporting that there were three groups of people that ultimately gave the election to Obama. If you're like me, you watched the electoral map and it was lit up mostly red, yet Obama won. In states like Ohio which was a must win for Romney, three quarters of the state was Republican Red, but the metropolitan areas of Cleveland and Cincinnati carried the state.
The first group that won the election for Obama were the metropolitan areas of the country. Of the top 25 population centers of America, more than 60% voted Democrat. Of the top 50 most populated cities in America, only 19 were carried by the Republican party. The Bible Belt carried the GOP line as it normally does along with the midwest and plains. The issue is that population equals electoral college votes and if land mass equaled votes, the GOP may never lose again. But people equal votes and what is plain to see is that Christianity is being marginalized to historically traditional conservative roots and rural places. This is compounded by the fact that more churches are being planted in what we can call the GOP Corridor than anywhere else. In western and Pacific states, there are more than 1,200 communities that have no fundamental church located within a 30 mile radius of their center. Of the top 100 metropolitan areas in the country, 73 of them have been pegged as not having enough fundamental Christian churches in the area. This is to say that almost 75% of our media moguls, elite, and thinkers are more easily affected and influenced by everything except Christianity. Of the top metropolitan areas of America, 37 cities have been identified as having little to no Christian presence in the form of an active and growing fundamental Christian congregation. This is an indictment upon the church. How many more church splits must we call church plants in the Bible Belt? How many more 75-150 member congregations do we need in cities of 7,500-15,000? How relevant are we and how aware are we of the trends and waves sweeping across our nation? My own opinion is that we have traditionally only reacted to evil when it came to our town and then even in some of those instances, we've retreated to our proverbial prayer closets to no avail. When will we learn to realize that Christianity is about a Kingdom, not a church or a denomination or a doctrinal system? The longer we wait to unite, pool our resources, and mandate, establish, and push change, the quicker the crash.
The second group that handed the election to the President Obama is said to be the minorities of the country. One poll from CNN last night stated that 93% of all African-Americans voted for Obama. Almost 67% of the Hispanic community voted for Obama and this demographic is the fastest growing in America today. These two demographics carried the election. It should also be noted that these two demographics are traditionally missing in our Christian churches. The Church of God adopted a theory in the mid 1900's that the greatest way to reach African-Americans was to help them establish their own churches. And whether that was right or wrong then, I don't know. The numbers can be debated and consideration has to be given to the political climate of the time in regards to segregation and so forth. The unfortunate thing however is that America has been desegregated for some 50 years by law and the practice seems to still be in effect in many denominations. The Hispanic community is finding itself in the same boat and language plays a major role. It becomes seemingly easier to help start a Hispanic church separated from the white majority than to seek integration or incorporation. There is no doubt that styles between the races are different. There is no doubt that each has a right to "have" or "do" church in whichever way is desirable as long as its orthodox. But what we are finding is the melting pot of New York City is truly melting down into our other cities, towns, communities, and systems. The media and technology markets have now connected with almost every household in America and with the new "smart" gadgets, media coverage, celebrity scandals, and "fantasyland" escapism is at everyone's fingertips. The Metropolitan Effect is now showing up in "Cowtown USA." That being said, a new generation no longer views race as it once did. Interracial marriage and relationships have risen over the last decade and many racist rants and actions are being perpetrated or masterminded by an older generation. Racism certainly still exists, but it's changing dramatically. Unfortunately, the church hasn't changed with it. If the church really wants to make a stand and a difference, it must find a way to reengage the minorities in the country. Our services, partnerships, collaborations, languages, and styles must all find commonality as we seek to repair the breach. The two minority populations the church has traditionally shunned or kept at arm's length just decided a national election. The church would be wise to reconsider her stance and seek out outreach, partnership, and evangelistic efforts to bridge the gap.
The last group that is said to have given the election to Obama is the Millennial Generation or young adults and teens. Obama captured 60% of the youth vote (18-29) whereas Romney only got 36%. Ages 30-40 weren't far behind in their support of the President. In other words, a whole generation demographic seemed to stand firmly behind the President's platform. The not so ironic thing? These age groups are widely missing in our churches as well. Some statistics go as far as to say that only 4% of the Millennial Generation, those born 1980-2000, are Christians. At the rate of decline, the next generation is estimated to only be at 2% currently and continuing the decline further as time goes by. Why are we losing this generation in the church? Could it be that the typical response from many churches to crises is to revert back to some style or tradition that seemingly worked a generation or two ago and by doing so, we inadvertently close the door on the current and next generations? If you're part of the crowd that thinks returning to hymns, finding more preachers who spit and snot, resurrecting legalistic holiness standards, and re-installing ceiling fans for the purposes of swinging from them is going to turn the tide, may I ask that you reconsider.
God doesn't change but time does and God is not time. Seasons change. Generalities change. Ideas change. Feelings change. Reason changes. We must change with these things. Change does not equal compromise and change for the sake of change is and will always be the illusion of progress. What we need in regards to these lost generations is change without compromise. Truth without tradition. Heritage without bondage. Acceptance without preconception. Discernment apart from judgment. These generations are the main pushers behind gay marriage and even abortion, two things the Bible condemns. Is it any wonder that this generation is largely absent in our churches? We must transfer "ownership" in our churches and elevate programs and forward evangelism aimed specifically at these generation groups. It will again require a change of style and a putting down of some long held traditions. Yes, there will always be churches where we can find what we're looking for in terms of our tastes, but did Christ die and rise again so that we could gather in our congregations who look like us, act like us, sing like we like, preach like we like, and plan like we like? Or did He die and rise again that we may be empowered to radically change a community, state, nation and world? I think the latter.
TO BE CONTINUED . . .