First of all, Mario Murillo Ministries is still a California Corporation and we are dedicated to seeing revival here. However, to learn how the church lost her witness here demands brutal honesty.
15.8 million Californians claim to be Christian—more by far, than any other state in the union. When California went abjectly hippie, communist, one has to wonder where were the Christians? Let’s stipulate that only one third of all believers in California can vote. According to statistics, that would still be 5.26 million people.
Gavin Newsom won a popular vote margin of just under 2.9 million. Why couldn’t the Church—with her vast store of congregants—come up with another 3 million votes to win the election? If every Christian who could vote, voted for righteousness, they would have won by a landslide. There’s a bigger question:
Why did Christians vote for Gavin Newsom? He is even most hostile to our values than Jerry Brown was. We know they did, because he could not win without their vote. The church had the power—at every turn—to stop the liberal agenda in California. Why didn’t she?
I know that judges overturned the will of the people with Prop 8. I get that there are union crime families in California. I realize that free speech is dying on the left coast. I also know there is widespread voter fraud. All of that considered, it still does not explain how such a vast voting bloc could be neutralized.
This is not a hatchet job on believers in the Golden State. I have sacrificed a great part of my life for the churches there. I don’t believe the fault lies with rank and file believers. I also know there are many godly pastors faithfully serving on the West Coast.
No, this disaster crept in like a Trojan Horse. I saw it firsthand and preached against it from the first day I saw it. It was a masterstroke of Satan that began over 30 years ago. When I tell you the culprit, a part of you will be shocked, and another part will recognize why I am right instantly.
The problem was the church growth movement. More harm than you can possibly imagine came from the seemingly innocuous words “church growth movement.” And, yes indeed it was a movement.
The initial victim was unity. The next victim was soul winning. The final victim was Bible literacy. Here is how it worked:
When numbers mattered more than anything, California pastors began to see other pastors as the competition. Hollywood, drugs, atheism, and sexual perversion were no longer the threat—now it was your brother in Christ. Ministers became suspicious of one another, and began to isolate themselves citing their “big vision.”
Then, these regional pastors inadvertently created a new morality. Sin was not the sin defined in scripture—sin was now anything that hindered growth. By removing the offensive parts of the Bible, they also removed the parts that had the power to change people.
They steered clear of righteousness by saying “confrontational messages offend the very people we are trying to reach.” This is code for “it is bad for business.”
To maximize growth, churches felt compelled to become self-contained entertainment centers, who didn’t need anyone else. This destroyed mass evangelism, like what we saw with Billy Graham in neutral stadiums and auditoriums. The photo below is from the Billy Graham Crusade in the Los Angeles coliseum in 1963. 120,000 are inside and 30,000 more could not get in. This is unimaginable in Los Angeles today.
Soon California churches became expert at drawing audiences but leaving them unchanged by the Gospel. Hundreds of thousands could belong to a church and see nothing wrong with abortion or gay marriage. Why? Because their spiritual leader never talked about it. Believers assumed that all of this was acceptable under the constant drumbeat of inclusiveness.
When the pastors noticed that the people loved their “nonreligious” appearance and behavior, they began to let down their guard. The innocent wine and cocktails turned in a drinking habit. Other dark trends that I will not mention became common among these leaders. Thus, they were powerless to address the rampant immorality in their congregations. They were also powerless to form a multi-church statewide voter movement.
Soon, Movie stars, pop stars, and famous athletes became status symbols for these churches. Instead of the mega pastor discipling these celebrities, the celebrities discipled them. It became impossible for these preachers to quote scripture, teach doctrine, or oppose liberal agendas.
Finally, taking a stand against left wing politicians became unloving. Pastors escaped their duty by saying “that is not my calling.” They took the Bible out of context in telling them that any political statements were judgmental. Any Christian voter registration effort was downplayed or banned.
Soon Satan had tightened his noose and masses of Christians were oblivious to the warfare around them—most of all, they were ignorant of the ultimate price their children would have to pay for their doctrinal illiteracy.
The things these pastors preached gave no inkling of what believers were about to face. Their child could be suspended for wearing a Christian t-shirt. Their job in Silicon Valley could be lost if they testified on the job. Textbooks that taught alternative sexual lifestyles were forced on their children. The streets grew violent and the Universities became intolerant. In short, these churches prepared their crowds for a world that doesn’t exist and did not stop the one that now exists.
California Christians—there is still hope! The Christian history of California proves that great movements of God can come out of nowhere. The Jesus movement appeared when a flood of immorality gripped the state. God can do it again! As I wrote recently, there is a secret about California that Satan viciously protects: Many in California are searching for God. We see it right now in Marysville where hundreds have been born again and the harvest demands we extend the meetings!
Nevertheless—it is simple truth: the church growth movement was destructive. Instead of building on the Rock—which would have given them a large church anyway—they built on sand. The storm that Jesus warned us of has come. They sent sheep out of their services unprotected and unable to withstand the storm of left-wing tyranny that has set the state adrift in a sea of chaos.
Christians across America, take a lesson from California. If the most popular churches in your state resemble the ones in this blog beware, the same crisis is already in your state.