Pastor’s Perspective 4-4-17
Being a pastor of a local church in America today demands an awareness of religious trends in our culture. Many of those trends in recent decades are not good. Church attendance is down. Professions of faith are lower, resulting in a declining percentage of born again Christians. The number of people who label themselves as Christian is falling. Participation in small groups has dropped by half in less than a decade. Bible reading is less common. Even the number of adults who pray has decreased significantly in recent years. These trends beg the question: why?
While there is neither an easy explanation nor a single answer, new research from the American Culture and Faith Institute provides one likely reason: Christians are not excited enough about their faith in and relationship with Jesus Christ to share the basics of that faith with non-believers. In a nationwide survey of adults, the ACFI study discovered that only 20% of adults believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith in Christ with others who believe differently. As a result, few do.
The other significant finding is equally alarming. The message being shared is often not consistent with Scripture. Among the concepts most likely to be shared by conservative believers are that people are basically good; that having some faith is more important than the substance of that faith; there is absolute moral truth but it is located in various places; eternal security can be assured either thru the sacrificial death and resurrection of Christ or by doing enough good deeds to earn God’s favor; and that Jesus understands our struggle because He sinned while on earth.
“A large majority of non-Christians in the US do not hear the gospel during a typical year. Worse, when they do have the Christian faith verbally presented to them, shockingly few hear a biblical form of the gospel,” commented George Barna, who directed the research for ACFI. “Because of this, it is inevitable that the most common metrics of church life and personal spiritual maturity reflect rapid declines. You cannot give away what you do not possess, and clearly most Americans do not possess even a basic understanding of the Christian narrative as well as the purpose and implications of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.”
I am still digesting the results of this survey for my ministry. In the meantime, we have news that is too good not to share!
See you Sunday! ~ John