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?
I love the body of Christ in all its different forms. The traditional church has served us well for centuries while society revolved around Christianity. But things are changing.
Is Christianity in crisis in this country? The following statistics
concerning pastors are not meant to be a criticism of the traditional church, but they are worrying.
- Fifteen hundred pastors in the US quit every month due to stress, extra-marital affairs or conflict in their churches.
- Over fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged they would leave the ministry if they could but have no other way of making a living.
- Fifty percent of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.
- Almost forty percent say they have been in an extra-marital affair since entering the ministry.
- Seventy percent say they only study the Bible when preparing for sermons or lessons.
- Seventy percent say they do not have close personal friends.
Whatever kind of church we are part of, let’s pray for our brothers and sisters in “full time ministry.”
The question remains. Is Christianity in the West in crisis?
I’ve been compiling some statistics re the state of the church in this country for a book I’m helping to write. I know you can make numbers prove anything, but is there a general trend? The question I’m trying to answer is this: Is the church in the West in crisis?
Here are some I found:
- Of the self-identified Christians in the United States, 64% say they have confessed their sins to God and asked for his forgiveness, but only 3% say they have surrendered control of their life to God, submitted themselves to his will, and devoted themselves to loving and serving God and other people.
- Less than one-half of one percent of adults aged 18 to 23 has a biblical worldview, compared to about 9% older adults. These figures can be doubled amongst “born-again” Christians. (A Biblical worldview is defined by believing in absolute moral truth, the accuracy of Biblical principles, the reality of Satan, God as creator and salvation through faith in Jesus.)
- In the average year, half of all churches do not add one member per year through conversion growth.
While many churches are thriving, many more are struggling.
So what do you think? Are we in crisis?