I was brought up in the UK–a post-Christian culture. To be honest, there are advantages to such a situation. Where there is even mild persecution (ridicule) it produces a different standard of disciple. There’s a cost to becoming a follower of Jesus, and those who do so have counted that cost.
I watched the UK slide from being a “Christian” nation to its current status where maybe less than 2% of the population are committed Christians. When I was a child, most of the country still found it acceptable to attend church. By the time I arrived at medical school, certainly within academia, Christians were put down and their views (“You really believe the Bible is true?!”) ridiculed. Christians in the media were consistently made fun of and displayed as ineffective “wimps.” Now, with notable exceptions, church has ceased to be relevant in any way within the culture.
This country is already well down that slippery slope.
- In America, 3,500-4,000 churches close their doors each year. Balanced against this is the number of church starts. From 2000 to 2005, there was a net growth of 303 churches per year (closures combined with new church starts.) This sounds great until you realize that we need to gain 3,205 per year just to keep up with population growth. We are less “churched” now than we’ve ever been.
- Historically, between 5 percent and 10 percent of Americans say they have no religious affiliation. That number has skyrocketed to between 30 percent and 40 percent among younger Americans.
- Christianity within secular academic circles is consistently mocked. We have friends who teach within the university system, and they tread a very fine line in order to hold their positions if they are known as believers.
We are probably only a generation away from being where Europe is now.
Are we in crisis, and is there anything we can do about it?