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Tuesday, October 16, 2012


47%  ??????

Did you see the headline I ran across the other day?  A recent survey by the Pew Group (http://www.pewforum.org/Unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx) reported that for the first time, Protestants are less than 50% of the US population.  They also mentioned a stat that I ran across elsewhere, that the fastest growing religious category in the US is “no religion.”  Why is that?

Well, people refer to lots of theories.  For instance, secular humanism gets blamed a lot…..how it has done away with people feeling a need for God.  Other people think the decline began with the Enlightenment, that the Age of Reason took God out of the middle of the universe and put the human mind at the center instead.  Some think the problem began with Darwin’s theory of evolution, replacing the Creator with the process of natural selection.  More recently, some blame things like moral relativism, by which people no longer feel guilt and therefore no need for forgiveness, or the rise of New Age eastern philosophy.  Some would blame the rise of busy-ness here  in the USA, such as Sunday sports activities for kids and schools that schedule programs during times that used to be considered reserved for religious education.  And, of course, there is also the good old, “Satan has been working hard.”  Probably, the list could go on for hours, to include things like deconstructionism, or the demythologization of scripture, or higher criticism, or competitive movements like Moonies or Scientology. 

I think there is another core cause.  I was visiting with a senior citizen recently, who told me about attending his Bible study group on Sunday, and how few were in attendance.  He then mentioned a picture (maybe on the wall?) of the class some years earlier that had over 30 or more people in it as opposed to the handful that day.  The question he raised with me was, do you realize what that means?  I know the answer he expected was something like, “It means so many of your friends have passed away.”  But that wasn’t what he got.  Instead, I said, “Well, what it means to me is that it would appear your friends have not been very good at inviting and including new people into their group.” 

We like to say the reason so many churches are struggling and the faith decline exists in this country is due to one or more of the things listed above (or not listed above).  But really, the core problem is not outside the church, but within the church.  The core problem is that we don’t effectively reach others for Christ, maybe because we don’t take seriously the urgency of that need, acting as if it can all happen later, or God won’t really punish anybody except the really bad ones we don’t like.  Or maybe we implicitly accept the notion that there are many ways to God, and we don’t really need to share the Gospel.  Everyone of these reasons flies in the face of clear biblical teachings.  The fault is not theirs, it is ours.  We don’t pray enough.  We don’t invite enough.  We don’t love enough.  We don’t care enough.  We don’t try enough.  We don’t value human souls enough.  We don’t take the Great Commission seriously enough.  We don’t risk enough.  We don’t trust God enough. 

It may be hard to hear, but does it really bother you that no religion is the fastest growing group in the U.S.?  Does it bother you enough to make you change your behavior?  Is God important enough to you that you will share what you have found in Him, and take more seriously the call to be His witness?  When you look back over your life, how many people have you shared Christ with, inviting them to give their lives to Him?  (Note, not how many believed, that is up to God….how many opportunities have you given for God to touch those hearts?)  Well, that statistic is just a statistic, and things change, but it is worth giving us cause us to think.   ALTHOUGH, for clarity’s sake, I also have heard that part of the decline in Protestant numbers is because many recent churches don’t fit in the technical definition of “Protestant” and are therefore counted in some other way.  Just thought I’d raise the issue.

TL:dr  Recent census numbers on the decline of believers should challenge us.

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