God will sanctify his Church. He will present a spotless bride to the bridegroom.
There is cause to be concerned about the state of evangelicalism and lots of room for constructive criticism, prophetic calls to reformation, and even harsh rebukes, but there is no cause and no room for hopelessness. Jesus is Lord and the gates of hell will not prevail against his Church.
Heck, I'm one of those weirdos who still likes the term "evangelical" and the camp "evangelicalism." I'm one of those weirdos who thinks for all that's wrong with the discipleship culture of the evangelical Church, it is absolutely exciting to live in a time when the gospel message is a scandal to even confessing Christians!
I may be in a large minority of people who think there's quite a bit wrong with the Church, but I fear I'm in a small minority of people who think the tide is turning. We are on the cusp of change, and while I don't foresee any insta-morphing taking place, I believe we are ripe for gospel revolution. And here's 10 things that warm my heart and give me hope:
1. The emergence of the "young, restless, and reformed."
2. Matt Chandler speaking at Catalyst. Ed Stetzer speaking to everybody.
3. The relatively quick flame-out of the emerging church movement, and the relatively quick emergence of the missional conversation and movement, which is more theologically grounded and so sensible even the Southern Baptists have found room in the inn for it.
4. Mark Driscoll and Acts 29's influence on the pastorpreneurial class. I have serious concerns about, for instance, the video venue multi-site concept, but the rise of this system as a bona fide phenomenon has brought infectious Jesus-preaching, gospel-centered guys like Driscoll into the same room with . . . well, other guys. :-)
5. The last several months of Craig Groeschel's preaching at LifeChurch and his blog posts from the same time period. I have no idea how the LifeChurch campuses are receiving things like "Some of you don't know what I'm talking about and it's because you think you're a Christian but you're not," but I'm prayerfully thankful it's being said.
6. I'm probably the only one who thinks this way, but I think the proliferation of God-centered worship songs on CCM radio and the CCM charts is a good thing.
7. The increasing culture of service in the Church, particularly among younger evangelicals. Maybe it's the marketing, but service and missions has become hip. I hope it's not a fad, and I have concerns about high passion/low commitment, but the near ubiquity of Compassion, Blood:Water Mission, The One Campaign, Soles4Souls, etc. means service and mission is more on the mind of the local church these days than it has been in the last 50 years.
8. The Christian blogosphere seems to have become kinder and gentler, and it appears to be talking about Jesus more often.
9. The disillusionment younger Christians are experiencing with the attractional machine appears to be spreading to their older brothers and sisters. The "burnout" appears to be taking place sooner than it used to. Those are negative things, obviously, but they are positive towards reformation of the status quo.
10. Willow Creek admitting they screwed up and many of its REVEAL-utilizing model churches discovering they had too.
11. The renewed interest in expository or passage-driven preaching.