John Ring: Let's talk about the things we don't talk about

What do you think is the major issue Christianity faces today? I have been asking many that question lately.

I don’t know why. Maybe I was inspired by Eric Metaxas' book, “Letter to The American Church.” I have a subscription to “Christianity Today,” and this topic seems to be a regular one in every issue. Or maybe I don’t think we talk enough about the issues we face as a body of Christ.

We talk about illnesses. We talk about ministries. We talk about those we don’t see, and sometimes if we are honest, we talk about those we do see. We talk about our favorite football teams and who is going to be the next Super Bowl champion. We talk weather, kids, and our golf scores. (Now, there is something not worth talking about for me. I try to break 90. I simply enjoy the game. That is, as long as no one brings a cell phone. And one other thing: I enjoy the game as long as nobody starts throwing their clubs and getting mad. Why get mad? None of those I golf with will ever get rich playing the game.)

There are things we don’t talk about in our church world. We tend to not talk about how we spend our money. We don’t talk about bad investments. We don’t talk about sex.

I don’t know why. The Bible talks about it all the time, and there is a book, Song of Solomon, almost dedicated to it. Did you know that young rabbinical students were once not allowed to read until they reached a certain age?

So far, the answers I get are first given with a lot of huffing and blowing and sometimes silence. Usually, I get, “Do you mean what is the main problem we have?” I reply, “No.” I just want to know what you think is a major issue we face as followers of Jesus Christ.'' Then they tend to open up and answer the question.

I’ve heard “bad pastors, the cursed internet and video services, and sexual issues.'' That one riles me a bit. We tend to rant and rave at every sexual issue known to man except adultery. One time I stopped one of those ranters in mid-sentence. I told him the biggest issue we face in the church sexually is the propagation of pornography and adultery, and they tend to go together. He left a bit miffed.

I’ve heard the biggest issue we face to be the entertainment culture of some of the younger-focused churches. The funny thing is that everyone who complains about them is not part of one. So, why complain about something you are not involved in?

I’ve heard liberals say the conservative church is a big problem, and I’ve heard the conservatives say the liberals are the problem. I drop my head often in those conversations. It’s sort of like debating politics between a Democrat and a Republican. Nobody wins and everybody loses. So much for being known for our love, as Jesus stated.

I seldom hear what I believe is the major issue Christianity faces today. When I tell people what I think, I generally get, “I’ll have to think about it.”  The major issue we must address headed into a changed culture is the isolation of modern man. The pandemic has accelerated what was already in place. Hear me, now: Just because we are going to a church does not mean we are connected.

There was a church during the pandemic that closed for a bit as most did.  At no time in a two-year period did the leadership call members to see how they were doing and what they needed.  That congregation was isolated.  I suspect they still are.

We need to be vigilant in connecting with people. One thing that has changed that I’m not sure we were trying to figure out is the concept of, “Don’t expect me to come to you; you need to come to me.” That is a tough one. Most churches are based on a “you come to us” mentality.

This is where the internet can be our very good friend.

I don’t have the answers, for sure. However, I want to talk about it. I want to talk with the retirement generation, whose members sometimes retire from everything, including the church. I want to talk to the young, who have no idea what connection is or means. I want to talk with the middle-agers, who are working themselves to death just to survive the economy and need a church that is a place of rest, not more demands. I want to talk with members. I want to talk with pastors. I want to talk with people who have disconnected.

Maybe we can have a community meeting on this one. Everybody can come. One thing: We all have to be willing to listen more than we talk.

You have heard the old adage, “We have two ears and one mouth.  Practice such.”

I’m willing to listen. Does anyone want to talk?

John Ring is the director of Hope of the Community.

John Ring
John Ring

This article originally appeared on Bluffton Today: John Ring: Talking about things that Christians just don't talk about