John MacArthur writes: Some observers might think the evangelical movement is larger and healthier today than it has ever been. After all, there are more megachurches than ever, some boasting attendance figures exceeding 20,000 people per week. Massive pep rallies, enormous songfests, and stadium sized men’s meetings have become fairly commonplace in the modern evangelical culture. He continues saying that nonetheless, there is a spiritual famine in the land which he links to the dearth of biblical preaching.
We have found this to be the case in ancient Israel in the 8th century B.C. during the time which Amos was sent by God to prophesy. Despite vibrant worship, great religious zeal, and lofty numbers of people gathering at the three worship centers of Israel – Bethel, Dan and Beersheba – Amos announced that the days were coming when God would send a famine on the land, a famine not of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. We found that this coming spiritual famine would be so severe that young and old alike would stagger from coast to coast looking for a word, but would not find it.
Are we in such a time today? I am convinced we are! But how can this be, when ‘Christianity’ appears to be prospering so? After all, Contemporary Christian Music is the fastest-growing segment of the recording industry. Christian publishing has become big business; a few evangelical novels have even made it to the top of the New York Times best-seller list. Evangelicals as a group seem to be enjoying more clout in our nation than perhaps since our nation’s inception. It seems to our eyes to be anything but a famine.
But after a closer look at the fruit that is being produced by the modern church, it shortly becomes clear to the discerning Christian that the signs of such a famine abound. Pastor Steven J. Lawson writes, “[in their] new way of doing church, exposition is being replaced by entertainment, preaching by performances, doctrine with drama, and theology with theatrics.”
With no spiritual sustenance offered from the pulpit, the church has gone into ‘survival mode,’ staggering and seeking a word from God in every place but where God has ordained it to be found. While ‘boomers’ and ‘busters’ have settled into their seeker-friendly, purpose-driven megachurches, ‘Gen Xers,’ ‘Ys’ and ‘Millenials,’ exasperated by the ways of their parents, are ‘doing church’ in emerging fashion. Seeking to conform to the changes in culture, the emergent church has adopted a post-modern philosophy where there are no longer any cold hard facts, but only warm, fuzzy subjectivity. Experience and relativism trumps Biblical Truth, which ultimately makes saving faith in Jesus Christ unnecessary and meaningless. Meanwhile, the hyper-spirituality of the signs-and-wonders movements have sent a generation of people literally staggering from Pensacola to Toronto seeking gold dust, gold fillings, laughter, barking and howling. Add to this the staggering of the church, up and down the radio dial, and internet, and it becomes implicitly clear – there is indeed a famine of the true word of the Lord in our day!