America needs your leadership now more than ever. But there are a few things you must know and a few more you must expect.
A generation ago, pastor and theologian Francis Schaeffer issued a call-to-arms to the American Church in an explosive little book titled A Christian Manifesto (1981). Alarmed by the slaughter of the unborn in the wake of Roe v. Wade, Schaeffer called for social action in the form of civil disobedience. The problem as he saw it was a passive, inert, and ineffective church. Corpulent and self-satisfied, it had become the proverbial salt that had lost its savor.
According to Schaeffer, this was due to weak pastoral leadership:
As we turn to the evangelical leadership in the last decades, unhappily we must come to the conclusion that often it has not been of much help…. Spirituality to the evangelical leadership has often not included the Lordship of Christ over the whole spectrum of life…. The old revivals are spoken about so warmly by the evangelical leadership. Yet they seem to have forgotten what those revivals were. Yes, the old revivals in Great Britain, Scandinavia, and the old revivals in this country did call, and without any question and with tremendous clarity, for personal salvation. But they also called for a resulting social action. Every single one of them did this …
Schaeffer’s indictment of America’s pastors should not upset too many of you since, as old as it is, there are very few of that generation who remain in our pulpits. But were Schaeffer still alive, I fear the knicker-wearing theologian with the Van Dyke beard would be fiercer than ever in light of our current cultural predicament.
But whatever Schaeffer’s criticisms about the quality of the work being accomplished in the church of his day (or ours), he saw the role of pastor, priest, and minister of paramount importance in the life of this country. I couldn’t agree more. As a nation’s pulpit goes, so goes the soul of that nation.