Conservative political blogger and talk radio host Erick Erickson, in his article “The Evangelists’ Failure“on RedState.com, shares what he sees as one of Evangelical America’s biggest failures. Erickson is more than a conservative political pundit. He is also an Evangelical of the Presbyterian persuasion.
I have listened to Erickson many times on the local radio station while sifting through Atlanta traffic. He is a sharp, insightful, and fair brother. Based on some of the information he provides to his listeners, he is also politically well-connected.
I appreciate brother Erickson’s insights on culture and politics, but I’m not convinced of his conclusion of what he deems as one of American Evangelicals’ biggest failures. He writes:
What Evangelical America will most likely not do this week or this Sunday or any week or any Sunday is write a check to send a stranger’s child in a government school to a Christian school. This is one of the greatest failure of the evangelical church in the United States of America.
Maybe sending strangers’ children to Christian school is key to making Christian disciples, but this idea gets ahead of itself. While driving the reader to his solution, Erickson mentions the work Evangelicals do by sending money and missionaries to foreign lands. But he points out that international missions are essentially carried out to the detriment of local missions. Local missions is where Erickson might have paused and pressed which may or may not lead to Evangelicals paying for strangers’ children to attend Christian schools.
Many Christians get excited about sending missionaries across foreign lands, but will not walk across their own land to know their neighbors. For some reason, paying for someone else to further the gospel seems easier than paying attention to your neighbor to further the gospel. Christians are called to both send missionaries and to love their neighbors as themselves.
However, it is difficult to love your neighbors if you don’t know them.
Getting to know your neighbors may not be the easiest task. It may be fearfully hard for some. Yet, knowing your neighbors is prayerfully doable. Admittedly, I am no heavenly model of knowing my neighbors, but I have been taking small steps in my new neighborhood. Just as Christians intentionally plan for overseas missions, we can be intentional in our witnessing in own neighborhoods.
Erickson’s proposal to use Christian schools to help their neighbor is a good gesture. However, Christians writing checks to strangers is not necessarily a platform for discipleship – it could just be Christians writing checks to strangers in their own land instead of an unknown land.
If a Christian can afford to send, and actually sends, a stranger’s child to a Christian school – great! What a wonderful gesture. I’m just not convinced that sending a child to a Christian school is the solution to discipleship. Nor am I convinced that not sending kids to Christian schools is an American Evangelical failure.
The bigger failure would be the lack of sharing the gospel and living among our neighbors as if the gospel has actually changed us. Society is rotting away, but Christians schools, social activism, or political activism – good things all – do not offer internal change. Society at large is a reflection of where individuals are personally and external boundaries can only do so much to shape someone internally.
The gospel is the solution to the culture as it changes souls one-by-one. Christians share the gospel because they love God and love their neighbors as themselves. Let’s continue sending missionaries to foreign lands to make and love new neighbors while getting to know and love our neighbors in our homeland discipling as Jesus commanded.