Where did we miss it as a church, and how can we fix it?
“A man who does not know where the rain began to beat him cannot say where he dried his body.”
In his book, There Was a Country, I quote a famous author, Chinua Achebe, “A man who does not know where the rain began to beat him cannot say where he dried his body.” This saying suggests that understanding the root cause of one’s problems or misfortunes is essential to finding solutions or improving. If someone doesn’t recognize the source of their difficulties, they won’t be able to address or overcome them effectively. As the Body of Christ, we’ve not understood our role in showcasing Jesus to the world, therefore, we have not done such a great job at representing Christ, especially in our different spheres of influence.
The coronavirus pandemic, also known as the COVID-19 pandemic, came hitting the entire world and further accentuated deeply rooted issues we had not only in society as a whole but especially in religious institutions, particularly the Christian denomination.
Please understand that this is not a chastisement of the church or a means of pointing the blame. I wrote this article as a personal examination of self. What did I do as a Christian to solve some of the problems that arose during the pandemic? What am I doing right now as a Christian to stay relevant in these ever-changing times?
To understand the present, we have to examine the past.
What was happening right before the pandemic started?
Protests for Women’s Rights “My Body — My Choice” by Darya Yahmina
Going down memory lane, I can remember the rise of many social issues like gender inequality, human rights violations, and political upheavals. However, one key issue we failed to address for my generation (GenZ) was the rise of mental illness. I remember people from older generations taking the issue so lightly saying the younger generation was simply lazy. I remember the famous hashtag #itsokaytonotbeokay.
I even recall having classmates and colleagues who struggled with protecting their mental health. I remember friends of mine ‘hibernating’ from the rest of the world to take mental breaks.
Companies and organizations would post blogs, write books, administer medications, make carousel posts on social media, and all sorts of products and services to help curb and ease this mental health crisis.
As Christians, we simply saw it as a passing phase, while some of us were discerning enough to recognize that it was a spiritual attack on an entire generation. It wasn’t something anti-anxiety and anti-depression meds could solve because spiritual issues lie deeper than and go beyond the physical realm.
Your Mental Illness Does Not Define You by Jessica Molina
What we took lightly, the world took very seriously.
Mental illness became normalized and so did other social issues. I recollect the rise of diversity and inclusion initiatives within organizations to keep up with the trends and times to gain a competitive edge. Companies would be advised and then coerced to take stock of and improve on their social currency by adding these initiatives to their annual report and even encouraged to share them on social media.
I remember companies having to succumb to the demands of my generation to maintain their reputation mainly for fear of losing support or being shunned because they were unsure who would cancel them on social media and institutionalize a boycott. In an economy where a business’s bottom line matters; any negative press that causes public outrage and ostracization could mean huge losses possibly in the billions as seen in the Target Pride Month merchandise backlash.
We would come to realize that there were not only sexual orientation issues; we had gender issues, racial issues, disability issues, religious issues, and ageism issues to name a few. At this rate, there would be an increased demand for everyone’s voice to be heard. But of course, back in the 16th century, not everyone was heard; the fight was to ensure the voices and rights of oppressed minority groups were heard.
Alliances were formed between groups like the LGBTQ+ community, feminist movements, Black Lives Matter, Astrology groups, Alternative Healing groups, and New Age spiritualists (to name a few) as a means to come together based on shared experiences and fight for free expression.
What may have started as a human rights (social issue) soon became a tool in the hands of the enemy as minority groups started to control the narrative and who got to do what in the nation. They became the ones with the loudest voices.
Then, the pandemic shook the world in ways we are still trying to recover. With the enforcement of lockdowns, it seemed our society returned to segregation as people felt isolated and confined to personal spaces. I can’t begin to imagine what happened in homes that experienced domestic violence and abuse; these are statistics I would be curious to know should such data be researched and collected.
People sought safe communities online while simultaneously dodging the feelings of uncertainty, displacement, and loss. Then came the New Age movement with promises of healing the hurt of uncertainty and confusion about this unknown COVID-19 virus. But at the same time with the act of control — having the ability to control one’s expectations and outcomes in life.
HuffPost by Laurie Rollitt
These minority groups were already positioned to make an impact on the entire population nationally and globally. I decided to discover for myself what made the minority control the nation and I discovered a very unique framework.
Purpose + Agenda + Trends + Channels of Influence = Dominance
Let’s use a group like the New Age Spiritualists, or to be more specific, New Age Witchcraft as an example for this framework. I recognized that they knew exactly what they were doing and possessed all the mentioned factors above to gain dominance in society.
First — They understood their purpose — the reason for their existence, the problems they created, and the tools they provided as solutions. But most of all, they identified their target audience (GenZers); the generation commonly known as the liquid generation. An audience that is easier to be swayed and influenced.
Next — They had an agenda — They understood their mission to capture an entire generation and subtly lead them into spiritual rituals. You may hear most young people say they are spiritual, not religious. They tend to write and manifest their vision. I’m pretty sure you’ve come across the use of trendy words like manifestations and affirmations. New age spiritualists saw the draw for “spirituality” in their target audience and capitalized on it through clearly defined goals using catch-phrase appealing words.
Then — They hopped on a trend — You can either create a wave or ride a wave. The rise of health consciousness and discussions about mental illness and the increase in suicide rates presented an opportunity to profer mental health solutions such as yoga, meditation, crystals, and incense burning.
Finally — They had multiple channels of influence — Since New Age Spiritualists had already formed alliances and partnerships with different organizations, there were established relationships. These were partners that provided the resources they were lacking. For this alliance, you don’t need to be the smartest in the room, you just have to have the smartest, richest, and most influential people backing you up. Due to this, it was common to find New Age spiritualists in every sphere of cultural influence. With all this in place, the only thing left was to get media attention by adopting digital multichannel distribution and mass commercialization. When I delved deeper, I was shocked to find a Horoscope app called Zodiac. It became really easy to find this type of group online as the solution to the mental health issues of Generation Z. Spiritual wellness became a thing and they carved out a niche in healthcare.
This is just an analysis of one group. Now, imagine how many other groups have presented their own agenda and dominated every industry.
While these groups stood out during the COVID-19 pandemic, we Christians sat in our homes and let down an entire generation. We were so distracted by socio-political arguments like whether JLo’s performance at the Super Bowl was appropriate for family entertainment or if it was just a celebration of women’s empowerment as she showcased her dancing skills and youthful exuberance despite her age.
This distraction was so great that we missed a more pressing need and opportunity to capture an entire generation whose fluid stance would’ve made them easily convert to the Kingdom of God. Spiritually, this was a classic case of the parable in the Bible where, when men slept the enemy sowed tares. This was such a huge loss to the Body of Christ that we may never fully understand the repercussions of the pandemic on the different generations at a national and global scale.
On the part of the Church, unlike the New Age Spiritualists:
We had little to no plan or agenda moving into the pandemic.
We hardly responded to trends. Only a few churches and faith-based organizations did. There’s a fine line between being in this world and not of this world. We very seldom responded to the challenges and questions that presented themselves during the pandemic.
We had almost no channel of influence online except the church. Few partnerships, negative media attention, and little digital adoption (otherwise, we would rank top in SEO for “spirituality,” and rightly so since after all, we are spiritual beings ourselves).
With the above-noted framework and the failures or gaps identified with the church, what will the Body of Christ do to gain relevance and dominance? It appears we still find it challenging to respond to the questions that present themselves in our world today. Why? The main issue is we are not speaking the Language of the World nor is the World understanding the Language of the Saints.
We need wisdom on how to speak the language the world understands without compromising our stand for God, His kingdom, and the purpose of our lives.
How can we gain relevance today?
Prayer is key. We need to be properly fortified for what’s coming ahead. While men slept, the enemy sowed tares (Matthew 13:25). Prayer will reveal the kinds of tares that were sown. From revelation, we know that there has been an infiltration of familiar spirits, so there’s much work to be done spiritually. Prayer will move you, to not just pray for yourself, but to look outwardly and pray for others. Ideally, it’s a conversation or an exchange between you and God that can also be entered into on behalf of others. This is known as intercession. And we know that God reveals to redeem so listen for instructions as He in the (form) of the Holy Spirit tells you how to pray and what to pray for.
One piece of evidence that shows that you have prayed successfully is hearing the instructions that follow. The Lord gives instructions to those He loves. The ability to hear from God is a skill that must be developed through constant communion with God by being in His presence. The Lord will also reveal to you the very purpose of your existence — which is, the problem you were born to solve and the people you were called to serve. As you pray today, listen in for instructions. What is God’s heart cry? What does He want to accomplish through you on this earth? It is also key to write down what you’re being told. It is said, the faintest ink is more powerful than the strongest memory. Therefore, document your thoughts!
As we said earlier, God reveals to redeem. For redemption to happen, there must be a corresponding action to rectify the error or problem. In prayer, God hears and answers in the form of visions, dreams, His word, or speaking through instructions through the influence of the Holy Spirit. After we recognize the problems that our world faces, there is a need to know how to present ourselves as the solution to some of the problems of this world. We need wisdom on how to speak the language the world understands without compromising our stand for God, His kingdom, and the purpose of our lives. One language the world understands is the speech of the Media. This area of cultural influence is dominated by the world, therefore to make an impact, the Church needs to infiltrate the media. That’s why there is no better time than now to unlock dormant skills in you and release your hidden potential. Go out and publish the books, write and record those songs, produce the movies you have long dreamed of pitching in Hollywood, and develop those building plans! I’ve seen too many times how the Body of Christ gets excited making vision boards but spends very little time creating action plans to birth those visions or having any tracking milestones to measure progress toward our goals.
This is defined as the act of being extremely or excessively productive (according to Merriam-Webster). When hyperproductivity is happening, there is a need to conceive, incubate, protect, and deliver a vision rapidly. Any deviation from this could cause premature loss of that dream or vision. Focus, sensitivity, and discernment are paramount at this stage. This is the time to cut down all meaningless excesses and focus on things that make an impact to get us closer to our purpose. It is time to spread across multiple industries if the Church is to fulfill the Genesis 1:28 mandate to be fruitful, multiply, and dominate. As people of covenant, God wants to see His children take over and rule! It requires us to have supernatural multiplication that breaks the laws of nature. It means we have to literally build cities and nations in a day. This was evident in the life of a man called Obed-edom. In 2 Samuel 6:11–12, we read how God blessed him in 3 months and he went from a nobody to a (very rich) somebody! The church refers to this as the Obed-edom anointing or, as we would say at Church on Fire International, Divine Proliferation. This is God’s agenda for His end-time people and would be what distinguishes the blessed from the cursed, the chosen from the regular, the church from the world. It is the season of multiplication, abundance, excess, and overflow. We’ve entered a season of hyperproductivity where we proliferate without apology!
In conclusion, impact and influence only happen when we take action. We have to be intentional about using our good works to spread the Gospel. We have to stand as the solution to the multiple problems showing up in our world today.
It may look like the enemy worked overtime and formed a stronghold but we are more than able to reverse everything and bring God’s kingdom here on earth.
You were created for such a time as this. This world is depending on you. Your generation depends on you. God is relying on you.
Will you represent Him?
Let’s go ye into the world and solve problems.