Patty and I received an email from a young professional couple—a doctor and his wife—who were disturbed. Agitated. They said they had an increasing number of friends their age who were walking away from God and deserting their faith. This couple wanted to know if my wife and I were seeing the same trend among our friends and if their experience was unusual.
Unfortunately, there is solid research that points to this trend in the Christian movement in North America, and there is a lot of conjecture about the reasons behind it. Regardless of the reasons, in the face of secularism, all of the statistics point to such a decline and especially how that decline is reflected in commitment to the traditional, institutional church. In some instances, the desertion rate is precipitous.
While there are a variety of factors, I think there is one that significantly contributes to this trend. The expression of the Christian faith that is normative throughout what is considered historic orthodoxy in North America, and the West in general, is primarily a cognitive, intellectual commitment. Christianity is academic and is what some researchers now refer to as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” Believing the right thing and behaving the right way is what really matters. While important, that by itself is inadequate. What’s lacking is experiencing the presence and the power of God. There is little to no supernatural reality.
I am convinced that such spiritual anemia is one of the major contributors to the phenomena our friends described in their email. If God is real, where is he? Just believing the right stuff doesn’t cut it anymore. We live in a time and cultural milieu where people are longing and crying out for the invasion of the supernatural in their lives and their space, if indeed the supernatural exists. Doctrinal postulations, apologetics, and theological dogmatics only go so far in meeting the deepest longings of the human soul to encounter God. The most powerful antidote to the bankruptcy of a secular worldview is when heaven breaks through into the natural world and the Kingdom of God is supernaturally evident.
Coming Next Week: So What Is “Supernatural”?…
This is the introduction to Sam Metcalf’s booklet, Engaging the Supernatural: Experiencing the Reality of God’s Presence and Power, a primer on how and why CRM sees a balanced perspective on supernatural ministry as imperative. You can download a free PDF version of the booklet on our website.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sam Metcalf has served as the president of CRM-US since 1985. His passion for leadership development, discipleship, and the spread of the good news of Jesus around the world has led CRM into over 85 countries and a variety of innovative ministry models contributing to contemporary movements of the gospel. He and his wife, Patty, are based in Fullerton, CA. They have two adult children and four grandchildren.