In a recent article, “The True Cost of the Churchgoing Bust,” Derek Thompson wrote,

“As an agnostic, I have spent most of my life thinking about the decline of faith in America in mostly positive terms…. Only in the past few years have I come around to a different view. Maybe religion, for all of its faults, works a bit like a retaining wall to hold back the destabilizing pressure of American hyper-individualism.” Thompson later added, “Organized religion provided many things at once: not only a connection to the divine, but also a historical narrative of identity, a set of rituals to organize the week and year, and a community of families.” The rest of his article outlines his case that technology isolates people from and undermines religious practices. To my surprise (and to his), Thompson then overcomes his agnostic bent and advocates for embracing the positive aspects of religious faith and practice.

Cultural commentators in many sectors are now lamenting the combined impact of expressive individualism and technology on human behavior, particularly on the socialization of young men. Teenage boys are voracious tech consumers, their attention dominated by screen time, which is detrimental to both their physical and relational development. The results are showing up in secular studies related to mental health, dating patterns, economic independence, emotional maturity, and marriageability. In all these areas, boys show significant declines in healthy behavior compared to previous generations. And it’s not just boys, girls and young women are also impacted – just not as dramatically yet.

The prevalence of technology buttressed by expressive individualism (America’s dominant worldview right now) enhances and intensifies social isolation. These two forces working together are a deadly combination.

The gospel, the church, and the challenge/expectations of Christian service are antithetical to expressive individualism. The gospel centers on God (not you), the church is about others (not you), and God’s mission (serving others and sharing the gospel) is definitely not about you. Thompson is right about religion – at least Christianity – which shifts us from self-focus to others, from self-care to community, and from self-indulgence to sacrificial service. Religious faith shifts out focus from screen-mirroring self to God and others.

Despite our critics, historic Christianity provides something our culture desperately needs – a worldview that creates healthy individuals and communities. While we readily admit our worldview and resulting behaviors will always be flawed by sin, even a less-than-perfect Christian faith system is still a positive force for good. American culture needs undergirding by a Christian worldview to thrive. We may discover we need it to survive.

To Live Biblically – My Family

My oldest son, Micah, has Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, a neurological disorder he was diagnosed with at 5 months of age. He is non-verbal, cognitively around 3-4 years old, and has some significant behavioral issues.

Kelly Womack
Trustee at Gateway Seminary
Kelly Womack lives in Fort Smith, Arkansas with her husband and sons. She earned a MDiv from Gateway Seminary in 2003.

Thank You and Goodbye

Dr. Iorg expresses thanks to all who made his time at Gateway Seminary remarkable.

Jeff Iorg
President Emeritus
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president emeritus of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.

Moving Into the Future

Gateway Seminary has selected Dr. Adam Groza as our eighth president.

Jeff Iorg
President Emeritus
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president emeritus of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.