Thursday, December 14, 2006

Most Americans Don't Recognize Major Christian Leaders

At the end of last month, Jason Kane of the Religious News Service reported on a study by the Barna Group that could be very insightful for the church. The article is appropriately titled: "Rick Who? Most Americans Don't Recognize Major Christian Leaders." Part of me is not surprised, given the narrow interest many Americans have in the broader world and the dominance entertainment has over the public's attention. However, this may be quite insightful for Christians who assume that they are really having a huge impact on the culture of our day. One would have thought that Tim LaHaye, author of the best selling fiction of all time (the "Left Behind" series), would have been better known. Or even Rick Warren, who Kane claims, sold more copies of his "Purpose Driven Life"than any other nonfictionwork except the Bible. But alas, the public at large, and it would seem even many in the so-called Christian community, are not aware of these accomplishments. Of course I'm not disappointed. I was fearful of the impact of LaHaye's and Warren's books since they hit the bookstands. I watched in horror as Lutherans started snatching them up and pastors started using Warren's material for Lenten series. Now, if they would just slip into complete ubscurity.....

Still, isn't it interesting that with all their success they can't even rise to the level of today's celebrities? The world really pays little attention to the church. We may wish otherwise, but many people in our communities are busy with everything but faith, especially at this time of year. Is this a pesimistic outlook? Not at all. This is simply the realization that Jesus was right all along. The way to heaven is narrow, the way to hell wide. The church will always be a small island in the midst of the world. Humbling, yes? Good. I think that the church-at-large has been too caught up in its own success in the last several years. We have spent too much time looking for outward glory. Now that we know the reality of things, let's get back to work proclaiming the Gospel and leave the results to God.

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