Friday, November 30, 2012

How to Build a Christian Nation

 For as long as I can remember Christian Preachers and writers have lamented the sinful nature of the United States. The remedy is usually thought to be another revival with massively big meetings led by Billy Graham type of Preachers with hundreds of sinners walking down the stadium walkways in response to the song "Just As I Am". In fact, Billy Graham is supposed to have said that the USA was so sinful that God would have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah if He did not punish us.

I have studied history from a religious and spiritual perspective and I am not at all sure  the USA is so bad comparatively speaking and I certainly do not agree that the answer is a series of 1950 style "Revival Meetings". We had a Spiritual Awakening in the Sixties and Seventies. It happened in a parallel fashion with the Hippie Movement. As one side of the nation was moving farther into sex, drugs and rock music the other was being touched by God's Spirit. In other words, as preachers railed against the sin of young people God was busy bringing millions of them to faith in Christ.

At this point in time we are in the afterglow of the Fourth Great Awakening and need to follow God's plan for reaping the harvest of the fruit in terms of Discipling and training the people God was saving. Revival brings people into faith and Discipleship equips them for ministry. However, the in depth, hard work of equipping the saints has been neglected.

For example, almost without exception Conservative churches take strong stands against divorce, abortion, sex outside marriage, drug abuse, poor parenting, pornography use, etc. At the same time, fewer than 10% of the churches I know have any program of pre-marital preparation, marriage enrichment, parenting skills, etc. In a new book by Hugh and Brad Rosenberg called FatherPrint, these statistics are quoted about homes without a father in them:

43% of U.S. Children live in one!
90% of runaways and homeless kids come from one!
71% of pregnant teens!
85% of kids with behavioral issues!
63% of suicides!
71% of dropouts!
85% of inmates!

But churches do not teach people how to stay together and parent their kids?

In our ministries at Sweeten Life we help churches and Para-Church Groups build solid families.  In the former USSR families were destroyed by terror, murder, persecution and state policies on abortion and spiritual life. How did we try to build a strong nation? By building strong families. The two cannot be separated.

Big revivals and new church plants were common in the aftermath of the Iron Curtain's demise. We saw large crowds clamoring for free Bibles and eager to get saved. Less than 50% of the churches planted in those days survived. Why? No Discipleship. No healing the trauma suffered by every family in Russia.  Just big meetings like a 50's Billy Graham Crusade. It was as broad as the Pacific Ocean and as deep as a dishpan!

We were different. We recruited a few gifted, talented, mature Christians and equipped them to follow the biblical model found in Isiah 61 to "Heal the broken hearted and set the captives free." Here we are 20 years later with thousands of Christians who have been "Healed, Equipped and Sent out to Serve". Hundreds of families are being restored every year all over Russia.

Galina and I have been sharing some inspiring stories about God's love, truth, power and gifts being unleashed through all the churches in Russia. If you are interested in  discovering how to build a nation came and listen to us Saturday at 2:00-4:00 at the Vineyard Tri-County and Sunday morning at Dwelling Place Church in Loveland.

For books and videos on Healing the Broken Hearted go to our Sweeten Life Bookstore for free and inexpensive materials.

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