Why I’m an Optimist about the American Church

Sam Rainer

July 26, 2015


I’ll never forget the young man who shouted, “Let’s do this!” just before he was baptized. His attitude reflected the vision of the church. He was completely submitted to Christ, optimistic about God’s mission, and ready to share the gospel. He came up out of the water to a roaring applause. The church felt his optimism. The church shared his optimism.

I don’t wake up every morning saying, “Let’s do this.” But I should. Every believer should.

Biblical optimism is neither capricious nor superficial. It’s a joyfulness deeply rooted in hope. Biblical optimism is complete confidence that God wins. There’s much not to like in our culture. There’s plenty of people to distrust. But glumness is not a spiritual discipline. The Christian walk is not a slog. A morose cynic can’t champion the Great Commandment.

God’s love really does win. Not just any love—it’s God’s love. Pessimistic Christians are just as much to blame for the cultural confusion about love as any other group.

How will God work through the American church in general, or my local church specifically? There is no way to know with certainty. But I’m optimistic He will.

God can work quickly. Don’t forget this important truth. Much has been said about the rapidity of America’s moral decline. Revival can happen just as quickly. God generated the swift movement of the early church in the book of Acts. Why not today, in our backyards? I remain optimistic, and so should you.

There are too many unanswered questions. The changes in our culture have not answered enduring questions. Why am I here? What is truth? In fact, godless cultural change only creates more questions that surface more often. I remain optimistic because the local church has the answers to these questions!

The loss of religious liberty is a spotlight, not a prison. Religious liberty is eroding in our society. It’s a shame, and we shouldn’t be afraid to contend strongly for this freedom. However, this loss is not a prison, even though it could potentially put some of us in one at some point. A lack of religious liberty is a spotlight. More people are watching us now. It certainly was the case for Peter and John when they stood before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4.

The Sanhedrin threatened them: “Don’t speak the name of Jesus. We forbid you.”

Peter and John answered, “We will not stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

What happened then? Lots of people started giving God glory.

Church, let’s do this. Cultural Christianity just might be dead. We need more faith contenders and less church pretenders anyway. The Bible belt lost its buckle and fell. Some are embarrassed. I’m not. The Christianity I see in the New Testament is lean and determined. You don’t wear a belt with workout clothes. We’re called to work out our faith while running a race. The only belt we need is Truth.

Church, let’s do this. We can love loud. We can stand strong. We can live joy. I’m optimistic about God’s work. I’m optimistic about Christ’s church in America. You should be too.

2 comments on “Why I’m an Optimist about the American Church”

  1. Wes and Dar Borton says:

    We were glad to hear that Joel arrived safely. Also, we were glad to hear that your move may be
    to Bradenton. We enjoy that area of Florida and will visit West Bradenton Baptist Church the next time we get down that way. We really miss you guys and hope to see you again. Wes would really like to talk with you sometime. Keep in touch!

    1. Sam Rainer says:

      Thank you Wes and Dar! We miss you guys! Come down any time. We would enjoy seeing you.

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