Home > The Lutheran Church-Beyond Thunderdome (LC-BT) > Church Shopping? Consider Iran.

Church Shopping? Consider Iran.

waffles“The court’s judgment came after Bordbar and about 50 other Farsi-speaking Christian converts were detained by security agents in a house in northern Tehran during a worship service celebrating the birth of Jesus, Christians said.”



Think about this for a second:


How many Missouri Synod Lutheran Churches are there that have around 50 worshippers at a divine service on an average Sunday?

A lot.  If I’m not mistaken, most LCMS congregations have under 100 people in divine service on Sunday.  That is to say, on Sunday when they worship in a church (or a rented building, less often), not someone’s house.  On Sunday we can come to church openly, not secretly; there is no danger of arrest or death, as Islam traditionally mandates for those who have departed from Islam for another religion.


Yet with these benefits attendance at an average LCMS church is not much  greater than at this underground Iranian church where everyone was rounded up and arrested.


Obviously this isn’t really a fair comparison.  They were celebrating Christmas.  Usually attendance at Christmas is greater at LCMS churches at Christmas than on other days.  Then too this church was in Tehran, a city of 8 million.  So fifty people in a city of 8 million and fifty people in a small town in Iowa are very different things.

But the point is this: there were fifty people at this church in Iran, where Christian evangelism is illegal.  Fifty people willing to risk arrest or pastor-youcef-2death to go to church.


We know from experience how easy it is for American Christians to skip church on Sunday morning–work, baseball practice, taking a day “just for the family”–just about anything can be an acceptable justification for missing church for sometimes months, as though the devil, world, and flesh are willing to take breaks from their war with us while we go to work or take our kids to ballroom dancing competitions and bushido tournaments.  Admittedly sometimes you do have to work on Sunday, and it’s not necessarily wrong to have your kid in a travelling sports team.  But it is tragic when you can go for weeks or months without hearing the Word of the Lord and receiving His Sacrament and not feel any hunger to get on the phone and make other arrangements for you and your kids to receive God’s faith-sustaining gifts, at least.


So think about this for a moment: in which country is it “easier” to be a Christian?

thCAV8XC6YIn Iran, it’s illegal to go to church.  You could go to jail very easily if you go to church.  Yet we have this story that fifty people gathered in a house to worship the Lord at His birth, and all of them were arrested.

In the US, it’s legal to go to church.  Churches are open all the time.  Christianity has been part of our culture for as long as Islam has been part of Iran’s, so your American family is not going to think you’re joining a strange foreign religion, like they might in Iran.  Yet in most LCMS churches attendance on Sunday is only marginally higher than in this church in Iran where everyone was arrested for going to church.

Which country is the Christian country again?

In which country is it “easier” to be a Christian?





Is it possible that there are actually more Christians in the Islamic Republic of Iran than in the United States of America?

  1. August 8, 2013 at 10:29 am

    It is becoming harassment to speak about Jesus in certain parts of our society. So we have the first signs of coming persecution. The question is, will we be bold enough to keep on doing it? If not, we most certainly will see our religious freedoms erode further until things are more like Iran. Some have awakened now and are pressing out with the message. Many, as you state, just want to do what’s comfortable and convenient. God, as we know, likes to shake people out of their comfort zone so that he can produce character in them. Certainly the Christians in Iran have character, perseverance and hope produced by suffering. Perhaps God, in his infinite wisdom, is about to produce character in his American flock as well.

    • August 8, 2013 at 5:37 pm

      I pray that that’s so. But I think too that lots are being sifted out too.

      It’s surely a better thing that people are free to hear the Gospel in the US; that the Bible and faithful preaching is available. What is terrible is that with free access to Scripture and freedom of worship there is little knowledge of God’s word and little faithful preaching.

      • August 8, 2013 at 11:57 pm

        The downside of seeker churches is that they produce a larger congregation with less knowledge. As a former pastor and sometime Bible study leader, I find it quite challenging to move people past milk into meatier subjects. It was announced one semester that I would be giving a class on angels, and the room was packed. After I explained that, to understand the nature of angels, we first had to understand the nature of God and humans and the relationship between them, 40 dwindled down to the hard-core ten or so. This was going to be a class about biblical teachings, after all, and not about TV show and popular myths about people becoming guardian angels and such.
        An old pastor friend of mine who had been a missionary in Muslim Africa told me that the US today might present a greater challenge for us than the African Muslims did for him. He noted a recent study that said America is nominally 70% Christian, but that only 7% are practicing Christians. If that is the case, and I have no reason to doubt it, the answer to fixing America lies in reclaiming the lukewarm Christians. If we could do that, even get half to be dedicated, we’d half 100 million people in church on Sunday. That would go a long way toward letting anti-Christian forces turn us into radical fringe group ripe for persecution. As you say, though, it may take persecution to weed out the chaff. Prosperity is sometimes more dangerous than oppression.

  2. August 8, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Excellent points. We would do well in the West to learn about the persecuted and let their faith inspire our own! If the American Church becomes the new persecuted, we better put on the ‘armor’, it will be the only way to stand! Ephesians 6:10-18

    Jesus Christ said,
    For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, EVEN THE ELECT. See, I have told you ahead of time. Matthew 24:24-25

  3. August 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    recently Reza Aslan’s Zealot was distributed in Tehran’s main church (among christians)

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