A Culture of Cowardice (part one)

Who are the exemplars of courage in our culture? To whom does America look when seeking heroes to serve as role models? Sandra Fluke? Caitlyn Jenner? Donald Trump? Bowe Bergdahl?

LC 2015 endangered 6It seems to me that the courageous have become an endangered species…and not just in society– but in the Church.

Think about it.

Wikipedia defines an endangered species as a population “at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters.” Can you see that all three conditions are true of the Church today?

We’re left with what I call a Culture of Cowardice.

LC 2015 warning 6Twenty five years ago Dr. Edwin Friedman observed that America had become “a seatbelt society” more oriented toward safety than adventure.

In A Failure of Nerve he notes that America has become so chronically anxious that our society has gone into an emotional regression. A regression that is toxic to courageous, well-defined leadership.

One effect of societal anxiety is a reduced pain threshold. The result: comfort is valued over the rewards of facing challenge. A culture like this has no stamina in the face of difficulty and crisis.

How like the contemporary Church this is!

In our commitment to “being nice” we prioritized togetherness over actually making a difference. In our desire to feel good we bury our heads in the proverbial sand while the culture around us sprints toward its own destruction.

According to Friedman, dissent is discouraged, feelings take precedence over ideas, peace over progress, comfort over anything new, and cloistered virtues over adventure.

The press for togetherness in the Church smothers bold, daring, world-changing action – like we see in the Book of Acts – and those who are courageous enough to engage it.

What emerges is a culture that is so “nice”, so fixated on empathy that it organizes itself around the most immature, most dependent, most dysfunctional members.

On average, churches in America have fewer than 80 in attendance, and are declining, fewer than 5% of their members tithe, and most fail to see a single convert to the Christian faith a year.

LC 2015 immature 6Who has hijacked the agenda in most of America’s churches?

The least courageous, least responsible, and least emotionally and spiritually mature have taken most churches captive.

Or, haven’t you noticed?

America has.