Why Evangelicals Must Care About Church Renewal

Church renewal efforts aren’t just a Mainline Protestant problem anymore. Evangelicals should care about renewal and reform, too.

Affirming same-sex relationships and fluid gender identity are the cultural issues challenging the church in America. Influential Evangelical Christian authors and bloggers like Jen Hatmaker are embracing a new morality. Another popular Christian author and “Momastery” blogger isn’t just affirming, she’s in an open same-sex relationship. On November 13, Glennon Doyle Melton announced in a Facebook post that she is dating retired U.S. female soccer star Abby Wambach. Although Melton is a member of the notoriously liberal and declining United Church of Christ, her blog and bestselling book influence a considerably broad audience.

 

Add another congregation to the growing list of Evangelical churches operating under the assumption that truth is evolving. This time another Baptist church. In Texas.

The pattern is the same as others gone before it. Churches swerve away from core Christian teachings and congregations—sometimes denominations—fracture. Church renewal efforts aren’t just a Mainline Protestant problem anymore. Evangelicals should care about renewal and reform, too.

Dallas’ Wilshire Baptist Church recently passed a motion 577-367 to affirm unrepentant LGBTQ persons in leadership positions and allow same-sex couples to marry in the church, as The Washington Post reported. While 61 percent of Wilshire Baptist’s members are willing to affirm homosexuality, the Baptist General Convention of Texas with which they are affiliated is not.

Shortly after the vote, the Baptist General Convention of Texas sent Pastor George Mason a warning letter stating:

Should your church choose to publicly affirm same-sex sexual behavior, the BGCT will no longer be able to accept funds from the church, seat its messengers to the annual meeting, allow the church to express affiliation with the BGCT or allow its members to serve on the BGCT boards, committees or other roles.

This is the second church the Baptist General Convention of Texas has mailed a warning letter relating to the affirmation of same-sex relationships. According to reports, the First Baptist Church of Austin also welcomes openly practicing homosexual members.

Affirming same-sex relationships and fluid gender identity are the cultural issues challenging the church in America. Influential Evangelical Christian authors and bloggers like Jen Hatmaker are embracing a new morality. Another popular Christian author and “Momastery” blogger isn’t just affirming, she’s in an open same-sex relationship. On November 13, Glennon Doyle Melton announced in a Facebook post that she is dating retired U.S. female soccer star Abby Wambach. Although Melton is a member of the notoriously liberal and declining United Church of Christ, her blog and bestselling book influence a considerably broad audience.

Renewal focused on Christian morality and 2,000 years of Christian teaching bound in absolute truth needs to propagate within Evangelical circles. But admittedly, we face significant obstacles in spreading the message of renewal and getting it to stick.

Independence and autonomy are so engrained within many Evangelical denominations, that most lack an overarching accountability or disciplinary body. Even Baptist conventions are limited in their effectiveness when issuing reprimands. Since affiliated churches join the convention in mutual cooperation, neither is forever bound to the other. Discipline cannot result in clergy or lay leader changes. The most severe discipline for theological divergence is removal from the convention. Not a massive threat for a church willing to reinterpret traditional Christian teaching.

Church renewal simply isn’t a part of the Evangelical mindset.

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