At our church this past weekend there was a promo for a program called Operation Christmas Child. This is an excellent program and I’ll let the link to a main page (it's under the umbrella of Samaritan's Purse) speak for itself; basically you stuff shoeboxes full of goodies to send to underprivileged children.
As it was being featured, though, something occurred to me.
I know lots of people will create gift boxes for it. And that’s great.
But in 30 years or so when the church in America, some say, will be dead – who will be making those boxes for those children? Anyone?
At the risk of repeating myself endlessly: Christianity requires an epistemic basis to be believed in the long term. The current epistemic foundations are rotten and will not survive. So say the doomsayers, and I tend to agree.
Maybe other people will pick up the slack, sure. Maybe the atheists will start something called, "Operation Winter Holidays Child." Maybe not. But is that what these churchgoers really want to see happen? Do they really want to see a day when they give their place, their ideology, up for someone else when it comes to ministering to these children?
The thought became even more poignant this morning as we listened in the car to the local Christian radio station. There are times when my wife and I turn this station off in disgust, especially when the hosts babble mindlessly about some triviality, or they play music by the apparently heretical Philips, Craig and Dean. But it's also frequently all we can find that isn't goofy or raunchy, and they do have traffic reports we can use. Good thing we have a CD collection, though.
But anyway, right now this station is doing their fundraising drive. One of two they usually have annually, actually. Do the math and you’ll see that their budget for the year amounts to $3.1 million dollars.
Hokey smokes. I could run Tekton living to be over 250 years old on that, and never ask for another cent from anyone starting today.
I have serious reservations about calling such an organization a “ministry”. They feature stories of how people were “saved” or more often just “inspired” listening to the station, that they offer as justification for you to contribute. Just check this one I found posted when I signed in:
I think Z88.3 is the best thing on the radio!! I play it all the time, I listen when I am on my way to work and to drop my daughter off at the babysitters house. My daughter just turn 2 years old, she can speak words and a few phrases. One day my favorite song "How Great is Our God" came on, and as soon as the song came on the station I hear my daughter mumbling. When I looked through the rear view mirror she was trying to sing the song!! She didn't say all the words but was keeping up with the melody. I started to cry and thank God that He is drawing my 2yr old into his loving arms.
How nice. The church is spending 3.1 million dollars so that someone’s toddler can learn to sing another insipid praise chorus. That’ll sure keep the epistemology solid when they get into college.
I don’t suppose it’d occur to this person to accomplish drawing this child to God with, say, some solid Biblical education at church or home, would it?
To be fair, this station does some good things for the community. But I judge that to be badly outweighed by the damage that they (and so many others) do long term to the Christian outlook, modeling it as one perpetual effort to keep ourselves mindlessly entertained as we hop from one crisis to the next. (By a crisis, too, they also often mean things like your toddler getting a skinned knee, on this station. I wish I weren’t serious.)
No one will take the future of Christianity in America seriously as long as they don’t take the concept of ministry and discipleship seriously. Unless something changes, Samaritan's Purse in 2040 might not even exist.
Or if it does, maybe they will have to find some smaller shoeboxes to stuff.