In a recent interview with Christianity Today online, Billy Graham celebrated the good things God is doing through today’s church, but offered some appropriate words of caution:
“I’m grateful for the evangelical resurgence we’ve seen across the world in the last half-century or so. It truly has been God’s doing. It wasn’t like this when I first started out, and I’m amazed at what has happened—new evangelical seminaries and organizations and churches, a new generation of leaders committed to the gospel, and so forth. But success is always dangerous, and we need to be alert and avoid becoming the victims of our own success. Will we influence the world for Christ, or will the world influence us?
“But the most important issue we face today is the same the church has faced in every century: Will we reach our world for Christ? In other words, will we give priority to Christ’s command to go into all the world and preach the gospel? Or will we turn increasingly inward, caught up in our own internal affairs or controversies, or simply becoming more and more comfortable with the status quo? Will we become inner-directed or outer-directed? The central issues of our time aren’t economic or political or social, important as these are. The central issues of our time are moral and spiritual in nature, and our calling is to declare Christ’s forgiveness and hope and transforming power to a world that does not know him or follow him. May we never forget this.”
All of us can be thankful for the way that God has used Billy Graham over the past several decades. And we will be wise to take to heart his concerns over where we go from here.
Dr. Sam Totman currently serves as the Director of External Relations in the College of Christian Studies and Clamp Divinity School. Before joining Anderson University, Sam served in several churches as a youth pastor as well as an education pastor. He earned his Ed.D. at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a research emphasis on Technology Integration in Ministry. He teaches in the area of youth ministry and media ministry to help the next generation of ministers meet the challenges of the 21st-century ministry.