The Religion Of The Future? Christianity On The Decline In America

Monday, March 09, 2009 Posted by Shattered Paradigm

The new American Religious Identification Survey shows that most religions in the United States are losing members rapidly. According to the survey, the percentage of Americans who call themselves Christians has dropped more than 11% since 1990. The survey reports that Catholics, Baptists and other mainline Protestants have seen large drops in numbers.

The number of Americans who claim no religion at all is now 15%, which is up from 8% in 1990. Islam, Wicca and eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism also show large gains.

But even those who still call themselves Christians do not necessarily hold to traditional Christian beliefs any longer. Two other recent surveys show that the majority of American Christians believe that accepting Jesus Christ as savior is NOT the only way to eternal life.

USAToday recently reported on an almost unbelievable new survey that has found that 52 percent of American Christians believe that eternal life is not exclusively for those who accept Jesus Christ as their savior.

A different survey that was taken last year by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life found that 57 percent of evangelical Christians in America believe that "many religions can lead to eternal life".

That shocking study revealed what many Christians have known for quite some time - apostasy among "evangelical Christians" is spreading, and it is spreading rapidly.

Evangelical Christians are supposedly those who follow the teachings of the Bible the closest. But this survey shows that even a majority of them do not even believe in the most fundamental precepts of the Christians faith.

For example, John 14:6 says the following:

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

If there was another way for our sins to be forgiven, then why did Jesus need to die on the cross? If there were other ways to salvation, then Jesus could have come down to earth, pointed out a bunch of other ways to get to heaven, and then could have gone back up to heaven without having to deal with the cross.

But the reality is that there was no other way for our sins to be paid for.

And yet these new surveys reveal that a majority of American Christians now believe that there are other ways to heaven.

The Pew survey also revealed that 45% of Americans as a whole say they seldom or never read their religion's holy books.

Perhaps if more Americans were reading the Bible then they would know what is truth and what is error. Instead, Americans have surrounded themselves with preachers and self-help coaches and ministers who tell them what they want to hear, who always make them feel comfortable and who never tell them about sin, holiness or the judgment of God.

The current situation in America reminds us of 2 Timothy 4:3.....

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

The sad reality is that the trends all show that church attendance in America is in decline.

Dave Olson, the director of church planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church, has done some really interesting research into the church attendance patterns of Americans.

Olson's findings contain a ton of bad news. For starters, his research found that the percentage of Americans regularly attending church is only 18.7%.

Olson has put his findings into an eye opening slideshow entitled "Twelve Surprising Facts about the US Church".

Here are some of the things that he found:

The percentage of people who actually physically attend a Christian church each week is quite a bit below what pollsters report.

The percentage of people who attended a Christian church each week decreased significantly between 1990 and 2000.

Only one state, Hawaii, actually saw an increase in the percentage of the population attending church between 1990 and 2000. Every other state in the entire nation saw a decrease in church attendance.

Evangelicals, mainline Protestants, and Catholics are each strong in very different regions of the nation.

The church planting rate has been declining steadily throughout the history of the United States.

If these current trends continue, the percentage of the U.S. population that attends church each week in 2050 will be about half of what it is today.

So is Christianity the religion of the future in America?

The way the trends are heading, it looks like the days when America could be called "a Christian nation" are quickly slipping away.

3 comments:

  1. John said...

    I'd consider whether or not church attendance decline represents a decrease in Christianity or just a decrease in church involvement. From what I am hearing all around the country, solid Christians are discouraged about what the churches are doing and the lack of effectiveness in training, equipping and outreach in their emphasis.

    Years ago, the typical church schedule included Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday nights for the average Christian family. This allowed for several times each week emphasizing the different aspects of the Christian life.

    Today, most families' schedules are so hectic, they primarily only go on Sunday mornings. Many churches emphasize reaching out to those who are lost or guests and lack the biblical training and equipping of Christians in the Sunday morning service. Some have Sunday small groups but these too are often lacking in equipping Christians for maturity and outreach - if the families attend anyway.

    All of this to say, many mature believers are standing back from their church involvement asking themselves why they are there. Some are leaving for smaller groups that are more focused on issues important to them and authentic connection with others for edification and challenging support.

    I have personally seen more church "splits" than I can remember. These are often quarrels about the church structure or leadership vs. members. When the split occurs, there is a remnant that moves on to more powerful service, ministry, and personal growth. Typically 1/3 stays with the church organization, 1/3 moves on to a new work together and 1/3 wander around for a season not motivated to do anything. I wonder if God is allowing us to divide to get us out of our comfy places, the familiar daze of the moderate Christian life.

    I heard a Christian leader say recently, "If we don't change the way we do church, we will lose an entire generation". I take this a little further and say we have already lost many and it is very important that we consider how we must change in order to be the powerful life changing entity that God intended us to be.

    I pray that Christians will be more equipped each week for the ministry of the streets! We may find ourselves forced into smaller groups so we'd better get used to closer quarters and relationships.

  2. Anonymous said...

    The bible says we need to worship in spirit and in truth! But what is this truth? The bible says that those doing the will of the father will gain everlasting life! Is celebrating hoildays, worshiping idols, being apart of a political party, worshiping in truth? Jesus said his kingdom is no part of this world!! So why do people who attend church and call themselves christians are so involved in the things of the world? The bible also says, you will know my true worshipers by the love they have for one another...their is one god-psalm 83:18, but so many different faiths...those who follow what the bible truly says, are the ones doing the will of the father! When jesus was on earth, it was the religious leaders that delivered him up to the torture stake...it is religion today that is causing problems in the world...the bible says that you are suppose to love your neighbor, but why do so many religions support war? The truth is out there, and it is very evident, but just like the bible says the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one, and that he has the mind of the unbelievers blinded....one way satan causes confusion is religion..

  3. Karl Mellor said...

    God is a merciful God, and he has shown time and time again, both in scripture and in modern times, that he is willing to bend over backwards to help his children inherit eternal life. He gave the children of Israel chance after chance to repent and return to him and held of destruction of civilizations until they were fully ripe in iniquity.

    This clearly demonstrates two things. First, the Lord is fairly tolerant of us and understands that we will all make mistakes during this life. It also shows that no matter how lenient and merciful he may be, ultimately each person will have to return to Christ in order to inherit eternal life.

    Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that they have to accept Christ in this life. A man living deep in the jungle, far from civilization and access to the Christian faith, can still inherit eternal life. But when will his opportunity to accept Christ come? Is he damned if he does not accept Christ while here in mortality? Certainly not!

    Those who hear the word of God while her in the flesh, then choose to ignore Christ's teachings and instead follow their lusts and worldly paths, will likely find that they have forfeited their inheritance in the life to come. If they do not repent, and yield themselves to the teachings they know in their hearts to be true, they will be relegated to a lower kingdom in the hereafter.

    However, those who have lived without the opportunity of experiencing and understanding the true teachings of Christ, will be provided with an opportunity to hear those teachings in the next world, prior to the judgement day. At that time, they will still be required to act on faith, and must choose for themselves whether to accept or reject he teachings of Christ. However, if they choose to accept Christ as their redeemer, they will inherit the same reward and glory as those who accepted Christ in this life.

    Some people live their entire lives with only a partial understanding of the full gospel. They belong to religions that teach them to do good and love their fellowmen, but fall short of the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So, while these churches may lead people partway down the path of righteousness and eternal life, they cannot, by themselves lead them all the way. For them to inherit eternal live and the fullness of God's glory, they will have to receive the fullness of Christ's gospel.

    As stated before, that may happen in this life, but if not, they will certainly have the opportunity to receive it in the next life.

    Does that mean that a man can live a carefree and reckless life now, and simply accept Christ in the next life? Most definitely not. When we leave this world we take with us our appetites and desires. If in this life a man chose to pursue and life of good and brotherly love, he would be more likely to recognize the truth when it was taught to him in the next live. However, if he chose evil over good in this life, he will likely refuse to accept the true gospel in the next life.

    As Christians, we have a responsibility to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the entire world, but at present, it is impossible for us to teach every single being on the planet a full understanding of the truth. But God will still ensure that all men have that opportunity.

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