The America I was raised in was saturated with the influence of evangelical Christians. While it is hard to define the meaning of the word “evangelical,” I view it as those followers of Christ who believe the Bible is true, who believe that they should share the “Good News” of Jesus Christ and who seek to live by its teachings in every area of their life.
But America is now in the midst of a rapid, cultural change. The very group of people who brought the salt and light of the gospel to this generation are now broadly considered a fading minority and for some, the source of the problems in our nation.
I grew up when it was normal to hear a Christian prayer over the public address system each morning before the opening bell to start the school day. It was normal for a man to marry a woman and a family to consist of a father, a mother and their children and to live together under one roof. It was normal in my childhood to witness people weeping in church as they were moved by a deep sense of conviction over their personal sin.
All of these occurrences and many others in the America I knew are diminishing.
I have been reading The Great Evangelical Recession, 6 Factors that Will Crash the American Church and How to Prepare by John S. Dickerson. It is a sobering wake up call supported by strong research and factual analysis. As my wife, Ann, said, “This is not good bedtime reading.”
Dickerson, a former award-winning journalist and now a pastor in Prescott, Arizona, makes the following conclusions:
- The fuel of American evangelicalism – dollars – is disappearing and will dwindle over the next three decades.
- The church is losing millions of our own people – about 2.6 million per decade.
- The evangelical church is not winning new believers fast enough to keep pace with rapid population growth in the United States.
- The external climate is turning against evangelicals. The fastest growing subcultures in the United States express militant antagonism against Christians who take the Bible seriously.
- The cultural debates and theological differences among the church that remains are splintering and splitting the church.
Having just returned from my trip to Turkey where I gathered with Crown’s European leaders, I came away with the painful awareness that there is no “bottom” to how far we can fall. Europe, once the motherland of the great theologians and the birthplace of Bible translations and sweeping revivals that impacted the world, is today scornful of those who believe the Bible is God’s inspired Word and authoritative over human opinion and philosophies.
While Dickerson offers a number of very insightful and helpful solutions to reverse the trends facing the evangelicals in America, I have summarized his recommendations into a single call to action: God’s leaders are needed now.
My appeal to you, no matter your circumstances, is to recognize that you can make a profound difference by getting engaged in the process of making disciples within your spheres of influence whether that is in your home, church, place of work, community or mission field. In fact, you are needed everywhere God has placed you, right now.
The Church is designed to multiply through this very simple, yet highly effective model: faithful people passing on God’s truth to other faithful people. Paul expressed this relational strategy to his young disciple Timothy.
“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
II Timothy 2:2
On April 15th, Crown will release our new, in-depth MoneyLife™ Personal Finance Study. It is both Biblical and very practical.
We have worked for over a year to ensure that the financial tools, the visual stories and the Bible study work together to deliver a comprehensive solution to overcoming financial challenges and achieving God’s purposes for your life.
It is easy to use and can be customized for any length from 4 to 10 weeks to meet the needs of your group.
This material has been carefully designed for leaders to use in their ministry to serve others regardless of their experience level or financial training.
You can preview the material here: www.crown.org.
When you lead the Crown MoneyLife Personal Finance Study, three very important outcomes occur:
• The individual student has personal needs met.
• Many of the students will become faithful stewards and invest their earthly treasure in building and expanding the Church.
• Some students will faithfully multiple by leading others through the study in their sphere of influence.
All of these outcomes are direct needs according to the research in The Great Evangelical Recession. In other words, our partnership, our mutual efforts will serve the greatest need in the Church today, to see faithful disciples who are committed to the growth of the Church.
You are needed and you are needed now.
Please join us in this urgent and vital cause to be the salt and light needed in the world right now.
If you decide to lead a group, please let me and the others who read my blog know by leaving a comment here. It will be a great encouragement to all.