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Is the Church Going to Collapse in America?

The dire predictions of the looming ruin of the church in America are overwrought, over-exaggerated, and a distraction.

About three years ago I gave my thoughts on what, if anything, would kill the church of Jesus in America. It seemed like about everyone had an opinion on the topic, so I figured I should too. But here’s a legitimate question: does anyone actually think the church of Jesus will die here in the West?

I’m not asking if anyone agrees that the church of Jesus has some daunting challenges facing it, not the least of which is its inability to get out of its own way. Unforced errors are always Satan’s favorite attribute of believers. I know as well as anyone that we Christians have much we can (and must) improve upon when it comes to our communication, approach, and methodology of reaching out to a lost culture.

But none of that is the question. I’m asking whether or not anyone honestly believes that the church is going to cease to exist as a potent force in the West anytime soon. I don’t. At all. Despite all the dire warnings about how many young people are walking away from the faith; despite all the hand wringing about lost influence; despite all the statistics that show the “nones” are gaining in number. I don’t. At all.

We may go through some refining, we may experience political or economic persecution, we may see a great falling away, but the predictions of the looming ruin of the church in America are overwrought and over-exaggerated.

Christianity Today had the numbers, and Trevin Wax summarized them:

Numerically, there are more evangelicals in America today than at any time in our history.

As a percentage of the population, evangelicals shrunk 0.9 percent between 2007 and 2014, which means that the numerical increase wasn’t enough to keep pace with population growth. But that’s hardly a collapse.

It’s true that the “nones” are on the rise among white people in the West, but globally, Pew Research Forum predicts that “secular” people in 2060 will make up a strikingly smaller percentage of the world’s population than they do today. Eric Kaufmann’s book Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? does not portray the future as belonging to the secular elites, but rather the religious grassroots that adhere to some of the strongest forms of religious faith.

So why do we talk about it? I think Wax hits on it in his analysis when he points out the desire for optimism amongst secularists who want to see an end to the church, and the pessimism amongst Christians who see the issue as one to exploit for the sake of driving numbers and fundraising.

Reading and thinking about this these last few years has convicted me when I consider that the first book I ever wrote leaned heavily upon the collapsing church theme to drive a sense of urgency I thought we needed. And while I still think the church must be urgent in its mission, I’ve matured enough to realize that the urgency must be in our mission of saving souls, not merely transforming a culture.

And when we come to that realization – the proper, Biblical one in my estimation – none of this bickering over the permanence of the church in the West will entice us. We won’t care about being optimists or pessimists. We won’t worry about cultural trends or influential fads.

We will realize instead that we have far more important work to occupy us.

So there was no "information" provided by you. Typically in our debates you would go down some tangent, some fantasy hypothetical with no evidence supporting it. Ones I found unconvincing and highly optimistic. And rejected them as such citing my reasons.

Now, I don't expect some perfect, 100% exact census of "ancient history". But if your argument is that persecution causes Christianity to grow faster it behooves you to be able to cite an example. As it is I would argue the complete opposite. Christianity seems to spread predominately through areas where it gains an advantage over other religions. Europe where the Roman empire legalized it and put its authority behind it. The Americas where Europeans settled and colonized. Ditto Africa. But areas were there was notable resistance to it or Europeans, were there was organized persecution it seems to struggle if not lapse. Hence much of Asia and the Middle East where it is very much a minority religion.

And I don't know, Etbass. At least if I debated with a tree I wouldn't expect much out of it. You on the other hand are, as far as I know, a human being. You are blessed with a rational mind, the ability to reason. To question. Yet you don't. You argue poorly. Demand I change my views to suit yours with little to no evidence then seem to grow agitated that I don't. And generally seem to act as if you are fundamentally right and somehow arguing is beneath you.

(edited)

Surely the citizens of numerous cultures have said the same thing over the millennia, but how many people continue to actively and wholeheartedly worship Zeus, Osiris, Odin, and the like? Maybe a handful, if any. Why should Christianity, Islam, Judaism or any of the modern spiritual traditions be immune from the same forces that have led to the rise and fall of earlier ones?

THE CHURCH is in the heart and mind of those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior; that Church will never fail. It is not about buildings, it is not about "programs and entertainment" as some are lead to believe. The true message is the one realized and taught (preached) for more than 2,000 years; we are all sinners and our only hope of forgiveness which brings salvation is by the saving grace of Jesus Christ. THEN, when we have made that confession, we become a Christian and Christians have a work to do that is accomplished by thought, word and deed. Salvation is available to everyone regardless of their past, but it is not forced on anyone; nor is it "absorbed" by sitting in a church pew; it requires action, not passive acceptance.

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