As an Asian Christian exposed to intentional discipleship in the Philippines, the American “Christian culture” shocked me
Fresh off the boat, I looked for a local Christian fellowship in the Wheaton area to acclimate. I was warned—American churches are different compared to the Philippines.
I first attended a church West of Chicago. The senior pastor was wearing a faded T-Shirt, which was fine until I realized the person beside me was wearing a coat and tie, his Sunday best.
I signed up for a small group but no one called for weeks until I sent a follow-up email. A pastor called and asked if I was a member—that was it. I’m sure it’s not always the case, except I experienced it.
Two years later, we moved closer to this church. I gave it a second chance by joining a small online group. However, we became busy with our house move and weren’t able to attend the next round.
After three weeks, I no longer received the online link for the group meeting. Then I got an email sharing their crusade in combatting racism in America, AKA “Black Lives Matter.”
Mega-churches turning “progressive”
We also went to a “mega-church.” Like the previous, church attendance is dwindling. Their senior pastor resigned after sexual abuse allegations. The new management hired pastors, which I found to be leaning towards moralistic therapeutic deism.
One of them was a “female pastor ” who slid on the stage from left to right, then hopped from the pulpit to the aisle. She was hollering while carrying a bible stand.
However, more unsettling are other churches that turned to “progressive doctrines” where political tolerance is preached.
When you needed help
Eventually, my family settled in a “village church.” A year after, I called for urgent help. My daughter desperately needed a female mentor. Unfortunately, no one responded. I ended up connecting with a social worker.
Maybe a ‘reformed church’ is different?
Perhaps, I should go to a “reformed church” that’s apolitical. I called a “century-old church” in Wheaton, and they got back with “pre-qualifying questions.”
They told me I was free to join their small group—if necessary. Otherwise, it’s important to stick with “your local church.” Talk about “your welcome“—but not really.
The steeple of this church recently collapsed during a hurricane—like a bad omen for many churches in America.
The steeple collapsed—like a bad omen for many churches in America.
Church attendance rapidly declining in American churches, what’s wrong?
American churches are dying. Since 2009, attendance rapidly declining. In contrast, born-again Christian churches in the Philippines thriving in the last three decades. In 2020, membership fell 50 percent in 80 years.
1. Social activism in church
2. Lukewarm churches
3. Less focused on small groups
A strong number of American churches seem to ignore the value of “small groups.” In the Philippines, the growth of the Christ Commission Fellowship has to do with intentional discipleship through small groups and mentoring.