In the world of Southern Baptist life, secular is a four letter word. The SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) affiliated churches are where sermons can be heard about the secularization of society and all of the ills that brings. It is an us vs. them mentality and it can be very divisive. The definition of secular they would use is secular3, “a move from a society where belief in God is unchallenged and indeed unproblematic, to one in which it is understood to be on option among others, and frequently not the easiest to embrace.”  Taylor’s book A Secular Age and Smith’s guidepost book How (Not) To Be Secular are a map to “What changed? How?”  within a religious society.
In the SBC churches I have served in as youth minister, the “secularization” of society has been a topic the pastors have had a preoccupation as a topic from the pulpit. As a result, most of the members of those churches have also had the same preoccupation. I have to admit, I have dallied with the same thing myself over the years, what always pulled me out of the focus on that was an issue that needed, not an explanation, but just a minister. People did not need to hear how I thought by having God removed from society led to societies ills. They needed to hear that God was still in control no matter what.
Perhaps, as James Smith argues in his article, Cracks In The Secular, “we might notice that many supposedly secular movements are characterized by a kind of religious ardour and devotion, not least the environmental movement” . I have long argued a secular world view and thus an atheistic world view is just as much a religion as Christianity, Islam, or any other. It has it’s own set of beliefs, which, if you do not agree with them you are not able to think on your own. They are taught at the highest level with disdain and even hatred of other thoughts. There is a cult like following for their belief system. Smith goes on to argue that what we see now from a secular society may just be the death throes of a failed ideal. He posits “What if secularism is loudest precisely because it is a final cry before it is unveiled as implausible and unsustainable? After all, the emperor shouts loudest about the beauty of his clothing precisely when he least believes it himself.”  This is a fascinating thought. What if society is tired of elitists telling them they are small minded if they believe in God, what if they are the loudest before the fall. It is an interesting thought.
If this is true, and we are witnessing a rebirth of faith, it will not be the same faith that some in our society yearn for. In older SBC churches I have often heard, it was a better time in the 50’s (or insert decade here) because it was ok to be Christian. Inevitably I bring about the question of “Better for who?” Certainly not people of color, not for people of different faiths (Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, etc.), not even for you if you were living in a town where everyone was one denomination and you were a different denomination. This has been written about extensively by writers more adept to this than I. The argument I would make is the old way of doing things was certainly not the best way. I have friends who have been run out of their pastoral position because they dare to reach out to the changing community around them and minister to hispanic youth, I sat in a meeting with him only to see an elder stand up and say “We don’t want those people in our church” speaking of young hispanic youth. My friend stood his ground and was fired. I bet if you cornered that man he would yearn for the church of his youth, where we did it like his grandparents did, black or brown or yellow or whatever color was not his was not welcomed.
The rebirth of faith gives leaders the opportunity to lead in a way they may not have if the secular3 had not come about. What if instead of large mega churches we have small house churches where we are not bound by walls and having to take care of the building but are free to reach the world around us without hinderance. What if, instead of spending millions of dollars each year on new buildings, we spent that money lifting up those around us? Feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, loving the unlovable.
This falls in line with my problem. We, as a church, need to be more focused on those who need the love of Christ than we are on our buildings, what music we like, what decorations are to our liking. If we are going to yearn for anything, we need to yearn for Christ to lead, not our desires. This does not mean I am against a church building though, I understand there is a social need for a gathering place, but it does not need to dominate our thoughts, our needs and our money.
Taylor, Charles. A Secular Age. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018. 3.
 Smith, James K. A. How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2015. 23.
 Smith, James. “CRACKS IN THE SECULAR.” Policy Options 36, no. 1 (2015): 16-18.