Why is the American Church in Trouble?

Don’t think the Evangelical church is i trouble in the US?  Consider these statistics:

•   The number of people in America that Do Not attend church has doubled in the past 15 years.

•   50% of  churches last year did not add one new person being saved

•   Only 15% of churches in the United States are growing

•   Just over 2% of churches grow because of new salvations

In the era of Mega-churches most believing churches are slowly dying. Why are some exploding while other shrivel?  I can answer this quesrtion best with an illustration from today’s sermon.

In Mark 2:13-17 Jesus calls Levi to follow Him and become His disciple.  Levi does, leaving his job, his neighborhood, financial security all to follow the Lord.

The next time we see Levi he has invited Jesus and His disciples over for dinner but he also invited his friends over.  The Bible calls them nortorius sinners.  The religious people couldn’t believe Jesus would eat with such scum.  Jesus replied that He didn’t come for those who think they are righteous but those who know they are sinners.

Levi understood what the Pharasees didn’t. From the moment we become followers of Jesus we must be inviting others to meet Him.  if we want God’s presence with us we must invite the people He wants to be around.  Sinners.

No new converts, none of God’s favor upon our churches.

2 thoughts on “Why is the American Church in Trouble?

  1. John, I completely agree. The gospel is the most important thing. We must never lose focus on souls. The reason to be culturally relevant is always to reach more people for Christ but we must never allow the culture to compromise the message.

    I can think of two examples in history of how not to adapt culture. First the missionaries who attempted to bring Christianity to the Native American Indians spent more time trying to get the to be ‘civilized’ (which meant dressing in white men’s clothes and living in houses) then they did bring the truth of scripture. Asking people to change their culture to follow God is an unnecessary obstacle to repentance and true changes in belief and behavior.

    The other side is how the Roman Catholic Church would adapt the practices of Christianity to the pagan culture with disastrous effects. When entering into Asia Minor they found pagan worship of the “Queen of Heaven” either in the form of Diana or Hera. The missionaries quickly responded with “We worship the true Queen of Heaven, the Mother of God.” And Mary worship was born.

    Paul said I become all things to all men. He was teaching us to adapt himself to his audience to reach them with God’s message. The bottom line: We must make our methods relevant of people will dismiss the message but the methods must never change the message.


  2. John says:

    Part of the problem is that many modern churches don’t really stand for anything any longer. They don’t know what they believe. There’s a great line on “Yes Prime Minister” in an episode devoted to the Prime Minister having to appoint a bishop: “The church is trying to be more relevant.” “To God, you mean?” “Of course not, I meant relevant in sociological terms.” Some modern churches seem more interested in encouraging abortion and gay marriage than in Jesus, and it seems to be spreading.
    From my reading, this is apparently what’s called the “social gospel”. It makes it hard to understand when, say, a prominent political figure claims to be a Christian, but his church is selling literature from non-Christian religions devoted to the same cause of “social justice”. This has been popular since the beginning of the 20th century – churches that are nominally Christian but more interested in “social progress” than in saving souls.
    There is I think a fine line here. I think that this phenomenon first grew out of undeniably positive things like protestant demoninations being at the forefront in abolishing slavery. But a great deal of what passes for Christianity has forgotten WHY they care about such causes (many of them misguided to put it mildly) and is now preoccupied only with them.
    C.S. Lewis said, “[God] will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of heaven as a shortcut to the nearest chemist’s shop.” One quote that really turns my stomach was where President Wilson at the Treaty of Versailles said that Jesus had failed because He taught the theory and not the practical application. That was right out of the social gospel in which he was steeped, and tragically missed the whole point of the actual gospel. He reminds me of the captain who said that not even God could sink the Titanic, considering how well his democracy without Jesus worked out for Germany.
    If you ask me, many Christian churches are dwindling because they’ve forgotten Christ. The irony is that it happened while they were devoted to what they believed to be Christ’s will (personally I never understood how the God who turned water into wine could back the prohibitionist movement). There’s a lesson there somewhere.


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