It is the part of wisdom to be thinking long-term in dangerous and tenuous times like these. We may not agree with all the decisions being made and the directions taken, but we can be grateful that at least some people in the nation's capital seem to be thinking about something other than their own careers.
But what about in the Church? The same dangers that face the nation face the Church in the nation. Where is the evidence that Church leaders are thinking long-term about the growth and health of the Body of Christ? Will Christians play leading roles in government, the economy, the arts, and higher education in the years to come? Will the Church take up the challenge of aggressive Islamic expansion here and abroad to recruit, train, and deploy a new generation of missionaries to the Muslim world? Will churches train their children to love the Law of God and live it faithfully, so that the old morality may one day become the new morality again?
These are not idle questions. Most churches don't even have a one-year plan; indeed, most church plans consist of little more than perpetuating the status quo indefinitely into the future. Denominations plan in terms of new churches and more members, but not much effort is given to how the Church will press the Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit into more and more areas of American life and culture. The American Church is a divided body, and little effort is made on the part of denominational and other leaders to seek the Lord together for revival and renewal across a wide swatch of American life.
Short-sightedness will leave the Church vulnerable to whim, disillusionment, and heresy. We can no longer afford the luxury of each pastor and each congregation pursuing their own little spiritual feifdom. Do I expect to see anything like a general conference to begin thinking about the Church and the future? Sadly, no. But we must issue the call nevertheless. Pastors could begin in their own communities by coming together to identify pressing community needs and brainstorming steps the churches might take together to work for the shalom of their neighbors. That could lead to larger, nation-wide efforts which could have nationwide, worldwide, and generation-spanning effects.
We cannot continue to function in short-sighted ways and expect that the Church we hand over to our grandchildren will look anything like it does today. Pastor, church leader, members of local congregations - look to the far horizon, seek the Lord together, pray for revival, and work as if the wellbeing of the world depended on the faithfulness of the Church.
Because it does.
T. M. Moore