"Mainline Churches Maligned"

by

Steve Haines

Your most recent publication of Pulpit Helps was very disturbing to me, particularly the information you shared regarding George Barna's survey concerning post-September 11 data. I have been to one of Barna's workshops and own several of his books. I have used some of his work as reference material in classes I have taught in my church. I know he has never shied away from challenging the church, but this latest material or the way you slanted it was as unfair as any I have ever read. Once again, you have generalized the work of the mainline churches to make it appear that as a whole they have failed in the proclamation of the gospel during our recent national crisis.

The days following September the 11th were some of the most challenging that any pastor could ever know. We of the mainline churches opened our doors to everyone and anyone at all hours of the day and night to minister to frightened people who suddenly found themselves looking for answers. We held special services, we counseled with people and we prayed with them. We preached sermons of judgment, encouragement, challenge, and hope.

We have been inundated with people that we reached out to with love and compassion, many of whom came to us wanting an instant fix to a complex situation. Many of these were people who wanted spiritual healing and assurance handed out to them as quickly as a hamburger at McDonald's, only cheaper. Is it possible that the challenge to faithfulness that came from the mainline churches was more than some of these people wanted to accept…? Contrary to your report, there have been many people who have been touched by the spirit of Christ through the work of the mainline churches and for that I give thanks to God.

You folks can beat up on the mainline churches all you want, but the mainline churches are working as hard as anyone else to make Jesus Christ a living reality in the lives of the people of this world.

Editor's response: The article about George Barna's survey ("Poll Finds Church Scene Back to Normal After Attack," February issue, page 9) carefully avoided pointing negative fingers at any church or group. The one sentence containing the words "mainline churches" was this: "On the other hand, Barna reports that Baby Boomers (37 to 55 years old), adults who attend non-mainline Protestant churches, and ‘born-again' indivuals were more likely to believe in absolutes." Me thinks thou dost protest too much, my friend.