There’s a new report from the Pew Research Council that is showing a decline in the numbers of people who are Protestant Christians. Protestantism, which has shaped American identity for generations, may soon become a minority faith. In the 1980s, 65 percent of Americans called themselves Protestants; today that number is down to 51 percent. Only 43 percent of those aged 18-29 say they are Protestant.
The reasons for the decline are many and it means that local congregations have to work harder to grow in faith, commitment, and size. Protestants, especially Presbyterians, can no longer take it for granted that their voices are being heard. In fact most of the figures show us that we are consistently being ignored. Whatever theological tussles and scriptural squabbles we have in our denomination may seem important to us. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, we’re outdated, unimportant, and insignificant.
It seems like we have been hit with a mortal blow. For some people, this will just make them want to give up. Instead of making faith a lifetime commitment, people are choosing to make church going a life-style choice. Rather than give of their time, talents, and resources to Christ’s mission, people want to spend time, effort, and money on themselves. It’s hard to overcome this sort of spiritual ambivalence. It seems to be, according to these statistics, far easier to let go of the Church and give up believing in Jesus.
Personally, I think the Church has been dealing with the here and now too much, forgetting about the future and hereafter. More pastors are into preaching prosperity rather than salvation. More congregations are looking for life style enhancements instead of life changing conversions. We are meant to be the Church in the world, but sadly we’ve let the world come into, and take over the Church.
Bible Verse of the DayJoshua 7: 5b They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water.
When the Israelites were defeated at Ai, their hearts melted with fear. They no longer had the strength or commitment to go on fighting their enemies. They lost their faith and confidence in God, and even Joshua was depressed by the defeat. It was a turning point for the people. They could go quietly into the night and be lost forever, or they could turn back to God and look for His guidance. They had to revive their faith and fulfill their destiny, or they could retreat across the Jordan and return to the desert.
As I see it, we have a straight forward choice before us: revive and survive, or deny and die. I don’t know about you, but I don’t intend to give up. There’s too much at stake, and there are too many souls that still need to be saved.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You command us to go out into the world to make disciples of all people, bringing them into Your Kingdom. Call upon us today to reach out to our families and friends, our neighbors and colleagues in loving and faithful ways that will attract them to You. In Your Holy Name, we live and pray. Amen.