Mike McDonnell argues that we are in danger of letting our complacency put our Christian heritage and our faith’s future at risk.Mike McDonnell Three-minute read. Resources
Complacency will be the death of our faith, our hope, our church, our denomination
Spiritual Complacency is not a place or an illness, and unquestionably it is not a situation for the fainthearted. Nonetheless, it is a circumstance that so many of us find ourselves in today. The Bible describes this mindset in the book of Revelation as “lukewarm” neither hot or cold, but indifferent in our commitment to living faith as God has asked.
As Christians we are called to live our lives as part of a community of believers. I know few, if any of us, who like their coffee or chocolate drinks tepid, but I believe it is the circumstance in which our church finds itself today. Complacency will be the death of our faith, our hope, our church, our denomination. It becomes a question of if the Episcopal Church has a hope of being vital in the twenty-second century.
I have to admit I was disappointed, but I also realized that it was God, not me, who stirs the hearts of people to take action.
Spiritual complacency is at the forefront of my thinking, because on March 30, after a year of effort, the Brotherhood of St. Andrew working with The Diocese of West Missouri put together an excellent Human Trafficking and Abuse Seminar. I had the privilege to work with Fr. Chas Marks and Gary Allman in organizing and planning the seminar. The event took place at a beautiful location — St. Andrew’s Church, Kansas City — the food was plentiful, and the four presenters excellent. It was a workshop that shared the underpinnings of modern-day slavery, the heartbreak of sex trafficking, and the dedicated work of organizations fighting to eliminate sexual abuse from the face of our planet. If I subtracted the people, directly and indirectly, involved, we had seven attendees. Consider for a minute what we were offering to the public. The opportunity to understand and an opportunity to help prevent a young person from suffering a life of anguish from sexual slavery and abuse.
Our competition that Saturday morning was Comicon, a Regional Basketball championship, snow, and complacency. The Book of Revelation states:
3 … 17You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.Revelation 3:17
I have to admit I was disappointed, but I also realized that it is God, not me, who stirs the hearts of people to take action.
What I see on Sunday mornings and at church-related activities during the week is a lack of participation that is an omen of complacency. Our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, our bishops, and the rectors of our churches are doing everything they conceivably can to invigorate membership participation. Attendance and church participation are not intended to bring enthusiasm to a building or an organization, but an intimate fervor to serve God, because God is who God is; the great “I Am.”
I do not believe that Episcopalians fully understand that our generation may be the most important in the history of Christianity. The foundation of Christianity spans generations of believers. We are their decedents, heirs to the faith of the apostles, followers of Jesus. We, at present, are getting near to the end of the line. What happens if we continue to falter? One, two, or three individuals cannot save a declining church. It must be the entire community of believers determined to hold the line, to stem the tide of complacency and bring a multitude of candles to light the way for the next generation.
Emmanuel, “God is with us”, are we with Him?