More Erosion

By now you may have heard about the latest survey tracking religious trends in America. (If not go here and read all about it. This is also a related story, but with a broader viewpoint.) It is just more bad news about the erosion of Christian values and faith in America. The survey reveals fewer of us claim to be religious and few churches are even holding their own against the decline.

For those of us in Churches of Christ we can follow the Christian Chronicle’s ongoing effort to address this decline in our fellowship.

For those of us who are have made our life’s work in ministry none of this is new. Recently I have noticed an increase in church bulletin articles addressing absenteeism- especially for Sunday night and Wednesday gatherings. I have also noticed several articles discouraging lateness. Seems when we do come- we come late.

Overall, it just dovetails into the survey data. Religion and church matter less to us. It is simply not the priority it once was.

As sad as this news should be to us, I still believe it also holds great opportunities.  The further our culture moves away from the values of Christ, the greater the impact these values can actually have.  Now is definitely not the time to give up, now is the time to stand up.

But since the landscape has so changed around us perhaps our greatest challenge in all of this is in learning just how to stand.

Any suggestions?

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9 Responses to More Erosion

  1. mattdabbs says:

    I am somewhat of a fan of Dan Kimball’s work in how to engage our culture. He has an approach that is open to connect with lost people right where they are without expecting too much from them at first. He believes culture has such a negative view of church/Christianity that Christians have to get “out of the bubble” and change that perception one person at a time. He believes we do that best when we exhibit the fruits of the Spirit.

    If we just sit in our fortress and hope the world will figure it out and come to seek us out, we have another thing coming. That approach is dead and if we don’t figure that out many more churches will be closing their doors.

  2. Frank says:

    Seems like many church leaders would like to see church growth on their terms, as they would naturally envision it. But unchurched people aren’t going for that, and they probably never will. In many ways, the unchurched can be forgiven if they’re not excited about what we’re doing. Let’s face it, sometimes WE aren’t too interested in what we’re doing either.

    From my vantage point, the church is missing a huge opportunity (1) by largely ignoring the growing Hispanic population and (2) by not paying much attention to Twenty-Somethings.

    But I don’t want to sound all glum. There’s so much to celebrate, so much for which we should be thankful. Revival is always accompanied by the joy that comes from the presence and the power of the Lord. I believe that celebration can lead us to wonder about the best ways to communicate what God has done for us. That’s the beginning of mission, which always leads groups to make the critical choices they have to make in order to be more effective.

    Maybe the best question a preacher can ask the church is this: What would you be willing to do, and what would you be willing to change in order to see your children and grandchildren involved in the life of the church?

  3. Mark says:

    Hi thanks for a great post. I’ll be back 🙂

  4. xybatt says:

    51% of the pop. is unmarried. 15% go to church. Frank is right. We are not pursuing the Hispanics or young people but, we are willing to argue about church form and function. Let’s be sheep and feed the hungry. Not goats and argue………………………………

  5. dannydodd says:

    Thanks for the input guys.

    Matt, I like the one person at a time statement. This is the way we must approach it.

    Frank, I agree with your conclusions and believe your question to be one worth asking.

    Jim, I just wanna be a sheep! 🙂

  6. Jim Sexton says:

    Matt hit the nail on the head, at least one of the nails… I compare it to sitting in our beautiful coffin, becoming the dead body inside, waiting for the end to come.

    That is what is happening to so many congregations… they have become just that. We dress up the windows, put down the velvety carpeting, smooth over anything that will possibly produce anything that isn’t what we did when we were growing up, and soon we are a dead body lying in our coffin.

    Look, the gospel doesn’t change, never changes, yet our surrounding culture continues to do just that. We have to realize that we are charged to make the gospel relevant to a generation that will never fit the mold that it’s preceding one came out of. One on one (discipling is as good a word as any) close contact, real life interaction works for me better than any series of lessons.

    Genuine application is what people are turned on to, just as hypocritical facades turn them off. The church has to get out of box, not just think out of it, if we are going to meet the challenge before us today. They are not going to find their way in through our doors, we need to find our way out as we ‘go into all the world’.

    Jimbo

  7. D. Meadows says:

    Danny,

    Sometimes I feel I can’t do much as just one person. I walk down the halls at my school or stand in line at Wal-Mart and I hear people using profanity or taking the Lord’s name in vain. I just want to go somewhere there are people who think and act like me so I don’t have to be subjected to the crudeness and immorality around me. It seems too big a task for me by myself. Yet I know that I can and do make a difference in my students’ lives by living the Christian life before them and taking every opportunity that comes my way to influence them. It just seems so monumental task though…..

    Donna

  8. wjcsydney says:

    Isn’t the real crudeness and immorality the fact that we (mostly) live selfish lives, accruing wealth and stuff while the world around us has very little?

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