10 Ways the Evangelical Church Has Lost Its Curb Appeal

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curb appealMost potential homebuyers decide whether or not to check out the interior of a house or take it seriously as a home prospect for their family based on its curb appeal…how it looks from the street. Statistics show that a positive curb appeal brings more people through the front door and gives them a healthy first impression. Conversely, poor curb appeal excludes certain people from looking further and those who actually do look will automatically discount its value.

Whether the perception from culture is justified or not, their view from the street is that we in the evangelical church are like the grouchy old man who is constantly yelling, “Get out of my yard!” Religiosity topics we assume as absolutely necessary to the Christian debate such as Calvinism vs. Arminianism; Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism; Republican vs. Democrat; Traditional vs. Contemporary; Conservative vs. Moderate; Mega-Church vs. Micro-Church; Connectional vs. Missional; and even Organ vs. Guitar are all contributing to our poor cultural curb appeal.

The Evangelical Church is losing ground with culture when we spend an inordinate amount of our time publicly debating issues that in the end won’t really matter. There is value and even necessity for healthy biblical, theological, doctrinal and even historical debate. But if those debates continue to depreciate our curb appeal and cause culture to drive on by, then maybe it’s time to consider a home makeover.

10 Ways The Evangelical Church Has Lost Its Curb Appeal

  • We unite around what we are against rather than what we are for.
  • Dogma instead of the church is now at the top of our organizational chart.
  • Those formerly inclusive guardrails are now exclusive litmus tests.
  • We have blurred the lines between commandments and amendments.
  • We claim theologically and philosophically to be racially diverse, yet still segregate practically and relationally.
  • Fundamentalism has become our primary method of evangelism.
  • We no longer encourage or even allow critical thinking.
  • Friendly fire is contributing to our net loss.
  • We appear to hate the practices of culture more than we love the people in it.
  • We are justifying meanness in the name of guarding religious territory.
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4 Responses to “10 Ways the Evangelical Church Has Lost Its Curb Appeal”

  • Duane Hines Says:

    Loving people where they are opposed to telling them what they’re doing wrong; standing up for what’s right opposed to standing against what’s wrong. Being missional is what we are called to and Jesus did the former rather than the latter. Good reminders, David. Thanks for this post!

  • David Manner Says:

    Author : Christiane Smith

    I compliment your honesty but I do know that now some key SBC evangelical conservatives are rejoicing in the fact that they see themselves as a ‘prophetic remnant’ of God’s People . . . and they are not particularly worried about the decline of the denomination.

    It is sad to see people having to take up that kind of rhetoric to save their pride and to avoid the responsibility of having been active participants in the decline itself,
    but they will not be moved.

    I am apparently ‘banned’ by David Miller from SBCvoices, after years of his ‘moderation’ of my comments, which is his decision and his right to do and I accept his action;
    but I still hold the Church of my grandmother dear to me and I still pray for the good people in it with sincerity . . .
    a return to humility before the Lord and to kindness like that of Our God would be an answer because it would draw people back to a community that worshiped Christ honorably without the political involvement of the far-right and without the perceived hatred of ‘sinners’ who are not ‘like Southern Baptists’ . . . I am sad for what has happened but I think you have some insight into the reasons for it and, having been given that discernment, perhaps you may become part of the healing of the breach.

  • Mike Reber Says:

    Thanks for this post David the truth may hurt but it also sets us free. I post a lot of your stuff on Facebook, the public comments are predictable most of the time. The responces that come privately could break your heart sometimes. There are lost and found folks out there, un-churched because they tried it.

  • Bill Simpson Says:

    Well said, as always, David. As a Baptist, I’ve maintained for years that we spend far too much time and energy making sure people know what we aren’t (too pentecostal, too Catholic, too whatever) rather than demonstrating clearly and consistently what we are (unworthy recipients of God’s grace trying to share the good news). We’ve allowed our minds and hearts to be consumed by things that are secondary (at best) rather than filled with God’s love and grace.

    I’ve heard some leaders speak the word “relevant” as if it were a four-letter word. And while I agree that the Word of God has always been and always will be relevant (we certainly don’t have to modify it to make it so), if we fail to help the world around us recognize that relevance, we have missed the whole point and lost that “curb appeal” of which you speak.

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