This post last updated on November 10th, 2021
After having been inspired by a friend’s question concerning sin and societal acceptance, I previously wrote about it. Writing that article shed some light on the landscape of Christianity in America today, which further came to my realization after having lived in Europe for 3 years and returning to find America at a well-defined crossroad.
At the crossroad of post-Christian America
Europe is already and has been “post-Christian” for decades. Despite the recent Pew Research finding that 70.6% of Americans identify as Christians, and although having countless churches in virtually every city and town, America is deeply entrenched and well on her way to becoming a post-Christian society.
Given the speed at which openly blatant sin is accepted even within the church, without intervention from God, the church will look vastly different than it does now within just a few short generations at most.
It’s a difficult spot for a Christian with any amount of conviction to be in. Sin that society now finds acceptable has found their way into the lives of compromising Christians, and even into the teaching of churches, including entire mainstream Christian denominations.
Worse than that, sin is actually celebrated in some churches and has led to massive fractures and splits of entire mainstream denominations. Check out 2 Timothy 3:1-5 for some insight on that.
7 trends that will define the American church in the not-so-distant future
Given the developments over the last 5 years in American society inside and outside of the church, can you imagine what the leadership of even the most conservative Evangelical churches will look like and what will be acceptable just 20 years from now?
It’s disturbing to picture the potential in light of today’s trends. The generation known as “Millennials” in America (18-33) are already racking up some very alarming statistics:
- Millennials are twice as likely as their grandparents to have never married
- They are the most politically progressive generation ever by a margin of 2-to-1
- 61% of Millennials do not seek out news and of the 39% that do, 88% get their news from Facebook
- 56% of Millennials call themselves Christians
- Only 27% say the Bible is the literal word of God
- 67% under 30 say they “never doubt the existence of God.” That number was 83% in 2007
- Just 13% of Millennials say that spirituality of any type is important to them and only 1 out of 10 ever think about religious matters at all
In his article, Should God Bless America?, author and missions leader Dr. Shane Pruitt absolutely nailed it: “We’ve asked God to leave our schools, courtrooms, and any public arena. Basically, we want Him to stay in those little buildings with the steeples on top.”
Why do some churches prefer the road of social acceptance to sound Biblical doctrine? Is it the “narrow gate” described in Matthew 7:13-14 that we’re experiencing? We can argue that some people, church leaders included, are simply just not confrontational enough.
Or a little compromise in church doctrine is justified in order to maintain numbers. After all, church programs, while usually not without purpose, cannot exist without church budgets, and budgets don’t exist when pews and offering trays are empty.
The road to post-Christianity is perilous. This is where faith’s bluff gets called out, the point where the church as a whole and believers as individuals will either live out and press on in what they claim to believe, or they won’t.
This is not the first time the church has found itself in precarious circumstances. In the early first century church, Christians were heavily persecuted, with some being burned alive, crucified, stoned, or fed to lions for sport. We would do well to understand that we will never be immune from persecution, as we have seen in recent months in places like Iraq and in Egypt.
The Western church, particularly in America, has enjoyed decades of ease. Once, while I was in an Eastern European country that knows persecution all too well, an American colleague sincerely shared that she prays against the persecution of the Eurasian church. Lovingly, our Eastern European friend replied, “I pray that the church in America would experience a little more persecution in order to keep your faith strong.”
I was silenced.
The cultural battles we find ourselves in at home are not new. The church has always experienced some form of persecution, most of which is far worse than we know. Our response should be today as it should have always been, and as it should forever remain: to be the salt and the light of the world, to love without condition and to pray without ceasing, sharing the reason for the hope that lies within us at every opportunity. (Matthew 5:13-15; Mark 12:28-31; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; 1 Peter 3:15). This is responding well.