A recent Gallup poll shows that 81% of Americans today rate the overall state of moral values in our country as poor or fair (45% and 36% respectively). And 77% of American's believe America's moral values are getting worse.
At the church where I pastor, I have been asked, "Pastor, what is this world coming to?" Actually, Christians for years have been decrying the moral decline in America for years. More than 25 years ago I had a teacher, who in his 60s, quoted his elementary school teacher saying, "If Jesus doesn't come back soon, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!"
At present, more than 40 actors, media, or political personalities have been accused of sexual misconduct in 2017. The majority of that number being accused just since October. Even last week, the news of the firing of an NBC morning show anchor for misconduct made the rounds through the media outlets, and he wasn't the only surprise firing that happened either!
(Thoughts and reflections as I watched the General Conference Annual Council 2017.)
It happened when I was pastoring a smaller church in a large metropolitan area. We had a growing number teens and young adults in that church--but most of them weren't involved in church beyond weekend attendance.
Silvia and I invited this growing group of young people to a social evening. At some point in the evening I asked these teens and young adults why they weren't involved more. They responded that the "old people did everything" and they "felt judged if they did it any way but the way it has always been done."
So I asked them what they wanted. They wanted inspiring music--not just hymns (yes, even in the early 2000s, some church were still singing hymns, and this church was still using the 1941 edition of the SDA church hymnal--not even the 1985 copy!) They wanted to be involved in worship. At that time, my church had two elders and they always accompanied me on the platform. One did the offering appeal--the other the morning prayer. Next week, they traded. And they wanted more social activities. And they had quite a simple list of things that most Adventist churches had addressed a decade before.
"In that case," I responded, "why don't all of you who are baptized come to the next church business meeting and make it happen?"
"The adults won't let us..." one said.
"They will contradict us and overrule us..." said another.
"I don't know," I told them. "Not many people come out to church business meetings."
It became an international story last month. "Former Adventist Pastor Embarks on Year Without God." Perhaps you heard or read the story of how Ryan Bell, former pastor of the Hollywood Seventh-day Adventist Church, left the ministry and is now considering life without God.
In his article published by the Huffington Post, Bell briefly outlines his spiritual journey, struggles, and ultimate falling out with the church. Then, the paragraph that has garnered the most attention he states: